Report: Apple News+ isn’t making publishers much richer

Not the panacea for publishers’ problems. But then again, it didn’t promise to be.

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It’s been nine months since Apple launched its $9.99 a month News+ service that bundles content from 200 sources into one, tidy app. Half of that fee goes to Apple for running the platform, with the other half divvied up by publishers based on how many eyeballs they get on their content, and for how long. A new report suggests publishers’ earnings from the platform are pretty pedestrian.

New audiences, but mediocre returns — One of the magazine publishers Digiday spoke to says they’re glad of the access to new audiences, but haven’t seen a massive improvement to their bottom line since joining the platform. Publishers have to dedicate resources to formatting content correctly for Apple News+, but can’t guarantee they’ll earn enough from the platform to cover that expense.

Little transparency, limited control — Apple reported over 200,000 consumers subscribed to News+ in the first two days after launch, but it’s been tightlipped on subsequent uptake. CNBC claims new sign-ups have slowed, and a report last month suggested the company plans to bundle the product with Apple Music and Apple TV+ next year.

That bundling might attract new users to Apple News+ directly or indirectly but could also make the revenue calculation process for publishers more opaque than it already is. Revenue challenges aside, outlets using Apple News+ have also bemoaned the lack of control over their audiences the platform provides.

Despite these woes, most people Digiday spoke to says they’re going to stick with the platform for now because it’s simply too early to accurately gauge its effects on their businesses.