Apple on Monday unveiled a news subscription service that will give access to digital editions of 300 magazines as well as a curated list of stories from the Wall Street Journal and several other big newspapers including the LA Times and the Toronto Star.
The new Apple service, called Apple News +, will charge $9.99 a month to give consumers a Hulu-like experience to access all the online publications through their Macs, iPads, iPhones and other iOS devices.
WSJ will be the only national newspaper available on the new service, as the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today have not joined. Conde Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Wired, is participating, as is Hearst, publisher of Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar.
“We already have been attracting new subscribers and readers at a strong clip, and now have the most in our history,” WSJ executive editor Matt Murray said in a memo to staffers. “Apple has the potential to push that further and farther, and at a much faster rate than we have experienced before.”
Jennifer Hicks has been tapped as editor of news partnerships to oversee the offering and the plan is to hire “several dozen people in the coming weeks, including reporters in politics, US news and features, as well as editors,” Murray said.
The rollout will give readers access to “quality news on a trusted, ubiquitous platform,” said Robert Thomson, CEO of WSJ publisher News Corp., which also publishes The Post.
“For too long, media companies around the world have been hobbled by dominant platforms’ algorithmic ambiguity and their disregard for funding models that truly support quality journalism.”
Details on just what and how curated WSJ material will be made available via Apple News+ were not yet available.
For Apple, it is the successor of last year’s buyout of Texture, which was an online subscription service financed by a consortium of big publishers but which only attracted several hundred thousand subscribers.
“We tried to do it with Texture, but it’s a hard reach when you don’t have someone like Apple behind it,” said Art Slusark, a spokesman for Meredith which owns People, Better Homes & Gardens and In Style and other magazines. Digital subscriptions never went beyond 2 percent of its subscriber base, he said.
How big could the digital sub base become with Apple now behind it? Said Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines, “Ten percent would be interesting.”
For the big publishers, revenue will be based on consumers ‘dwell time” on the various brands, he said.
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