Apple last year introduced Apple News+ as a paid add-on to its free Apple News aggregation app that has more 125 million users in English-speaking countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. The company charges $10 a month for Apple News+, giving subscribers access to dozens of titles from publishers, including Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith, Trusted Media Brands, National Geographic and the BBC.
Apple doesn't disclose how many people have signed up for Apple News+, but at least one press report has indicated the number is in the low hundreds of thousands. That's unfortunate for publishers that may have hoped to see a bonanza of subscription revenue coming from Apple's massive user base.
The company is looking to offer an "Apple One" bundle that would have a basic package of Apple Music and Apple TV+. Subscribers could add other services, such as Apple Arcade video games and Apple News+, for a higher monthly fee, Bloomberg News reported.
Apple already is bundling its Apple TV+ service with other streaming video platforms. This week, it announced discounts on a package that includes ViacomCBS' Showtime and CBS All Access services for $15 a month. Families can share a subscription among six people.
The company needs a bundling strategy to help differentiate its services from rivals that are outspending it on developing original content. Disney+ has more than 60 million subscribers, while Apple TV+ likely has a fraction of that level.
Apple also needs to invest more in Apple News+ to make it more interactive for publishers and their advertisers, rather than showing static digital versions of their print products. There is an opportunity to integrate the publications that appear in Apple News+ with the company's other services. For example, ads in digital magazines for music, movies or software could be linked to Apple Music, iTunes or the App Store to drive e-commerce sales for marketers and generate affiliate revenue for publishers.
While Apple's strict privacy protections limit the company from sharing audience information with publishers, they can still sell ads based on contextual targeting that in many ways is more powerful than audience-based targeting.
Whether Apple helps publishers reach a bigger audience for advertisers or generates more subscription revenue, the bundling of services can be a positive development for publishers.