PPA Blog

Guest blog: Pugpig on Apple News+

By PPA/Pugpig

29 May 2019

Jonny Kaldor, CEO and Co-founder of Pugpig breaks down the implications of the new Apple News+ platform

Possibly the biggest news in digital publishing over the quarter has been the official unveiling of Apple’s long-rumoured subscription service, that sits neatly alongside their existing Apple News service (which will continue to offer both free and subscription content delivered on an article by article basis

The core premise of Apple News+ is simple; readers pay $9.99 to get full access to a catalogue of magazine editions (along with a smattering of newspapers) that they can consume to their hearts’ content on their phones, iPads and Macs. It operates on the Spotify/Netflix model, whereby there’s a single monthly fee for access and once you’re in you have access to everything. Apple take their 50% cut of all subscription revenue and the publishers share the remaining 50% between them, based on how many people consume how much of their content.

Much of the magazine content is rendered as PDF replicas, but Apple are trying hard to get publishers to send them their content in Apple News Format (through a JSON feed) which allows Apple to render it in a more mobile-friendly, responsive way.

The Wall Street Journal have famously signed up to be part of the service, and this had a lot of people scratching their heads when the news broke, however they seem to be getting a significantly sweeter deal than any other publisher will get: Firstly, even though Apple state that you get all of the Wall Street Journal included in your Apple News+ subscription, in fact only 50 articles are surfaced by the WSJ team each day (the rest you have to find via search) and you can only go back three days. Confusingly, therefore WSJ is not available as an edition alongside the other magazines in Apple News +, instead, it looks a lot like the existing channels offered by Apple News with the content being delivered on an article by article basis (but with the subscription fees covered by your Apple News+ sub).

All of this allows WSJ to tell their own $40 per month subscribers that they would lose a lot of what WSJ has to offer if they switched their existing subscription to Apple News+.

In addition, WSJ are (allegedly) getting a guaranteed $1 per subscriber per month and are free to opt out of the platform at will - there is no lock-in for them at all. Sounds pretty good when you look at it like that, but how many other publishers are going to be able to broker the same deal? And now, of course, the remaining publishers only have $4 per sub per month to share between them.

So, should you be in Apple News+? Well, if you see it as a new channel that can offer incremental revenue without cannibalising your existing channels, then it makes complete sense - you’ll get access to a huge audience (currently 80 million monthly users on Apple News

globally), you’ll have a new way of monetising your content and, if you do it right, driving people to your owned platforms. But I would consider two things:

1. Offer your direct customers more than they get on Apple News+ so that you can use it as an acquisition channel for your most engaged readers and you can defend the direct relationships you currently enjoy with your existing subscribers

2. You’re never going to enjoy the same levels of control, data richness, ad rates, loyalty, engagement and advocacy on someone else’s platform as you will on your own

As you might imagine, we’re getting involved and after having had an Apple News connector for some time, we now support both Apple News and Apple News+ syndication directly from the Pugpig Express CMS. Give us a shout if you’d like to know more!

For more information on Pugpig please visit: https://pugpig.com/