It always seems to be two steps forward and one step back for publishers as they try to find a future with the big technology platforms.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, a number of big publishers are already signed on to sell subs from within the News App, using the new feature available in iOS 10, which resurrects a capability from Apple’s old Newsstand.
The list includes the WSJ itself as well as The Washington Post, The Economist, National Geographic, Time Inc. publications including Time and People, Hearst’s Cosmopolitan and Tribune Publishing’s Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
Like most of its other content sales arrangements, Apple will take 30% of the subscription sales revenue under the new program, then 15% of all subsequent renewals.
As always, Apple’s latest pitch to publishers is something of a mixed bag.
On one hand, it provides undeniable convenience. Before, publishers had to build their own apps with subscription paywalls to sell content on Apple, but the tech platform will now handle many of these technical details for them. The new capability should allow publishers to diversify their revenue streams in the Apple universe beyond advertising.
On the other, in classic fashion, handling the technical details also means Apple will maintain its tight control of publishers’ audiences, including limited access to subscribers’ personal data and payments — which are processed by iTunes. In short, publishers will always have to go to Apple to reach their subscribers, even in the long term.
This is the latest in a series of moves to give Apple more control over publishers on its platform. Last month, Apple began redirecting traffic from the popular news section of its “Spotlight” search screen to content hosted natively within the Apple News app, rather than on the publishers’ own sites, the WSJ reported.