Apple last week introduced a new program to incentivize publishers to join its news platform as the iPhone maker pledged to offer more support for journalism. The News Partner Program
may initially sound enticing because of Apple’s large user base, but
it’s not clear whether publishers will generate much revenue from subscriptions and advertising.
Apple also requires publishers to “maintain a robust Apple News
channel” in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom — and publish their content in the Apple News Format (ANF). Publishers outside those regions and those that
don’t use ANF must share content with an RSS feed.
Publishers that optimize their content for ANF will pay a lower commission — 15% instead of 30% — to Apple
on qualifying in-app purchase subscriptions.
The new fee structure resembles one that Apple introduced last year for smaller publishers that made less than $1 million through
the App Store. That change in fees
came amid heightened antitrust scrutiny of
Apple and its control of the App Store, the primary gateway for developers to distribute their apps. Epic Games, maker of the popular video game “Fortnite,” sued Apple over its App Store
With Apple’s News Partner Program, the company said publishers can keep 100% of their advertising revenue from ads they sell within Apple News. That monetization
opportunity sounds generous, but it’s not clear from Apple’s announcement how much information the company will share about the Apple News audience.
buyers, the Apple News could be just another digital “walled garden” that doesn’t tell them whether they’re getting de-duplicated reach among siloed media outlets. Without more
robust audience data, publishers won’t be able to realize the full value of their ad inventories.