The New York Times said Monday that it was quitting its partnership with Apple News, as news organizations struggle to compete with the big tech companies to attract readers’ attention and dollars.
As of Monday, the Times articles no longer appeared alongside those of other publications in the curated Apple News feed available on Apple devices.
The Times is one of the first media organizations to exit Apple News. The Times, which made adding new subscribers a key corporate goal, said Apple gave little in the way of direct reader relationships and poor control over the business. He said he hoped instead to direct readers directly to his website and mobile app so he could “finance quality journalism.”
“The core of a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path to send those readers back to our environments, where we control the presentation of our relationship, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules”, Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, wrote in an employee memo. “Our relationship with Apple News does not fit into these parameters.”
An Apple spokesman said the Times “offered only a few stories a day to Apple News” and that the company would continue to provide readers with reliable information from thousands of publishers.
“We are also committed to supporting quality journalism through the proven business models of advertising, subscriptions and commerce,” he said.
The news industry has had a complicated relationship with Silicon Valley for decades. Companies like Google and Facebook have decimated advertising sales in newspapers and disintermediated news sites by positioning their platforms as one of the main ways in which people can consume news.
However, when Apple created a news app in late 2015, promising to work with publishers to help them build a business, many news executives were cautiously optimistic.
Unlike other tech companies, Apple didn’t compete with news sites for advertising dollars. And Apple took an approach that was antithetical to the way its Silicon Valley colleagues handled the headlines: it only allowed major news organizations in the app and humans, not algorithms, to rank the main stories.
Apple’s aggressive promotion of Apple News on the iPhone made it public approximately 125 million monthly readers, making the app one of the most read news sources in the world. But advertising in the app generated little revenue for news organizations. For all the subscriptions sold in the app, Apple also has a 30 percent cut.
Last year, Apple introduced a new way for publishers to make money: Apple News Plus, a subscription service within its news app that offers access to hundreds of publications, which typically have digital paywalls. , for $ 9.99 a month.
Apple told publishers that the service would provide customers they otherwise wouldn’t get. But many publications would have undercut their prices and should have shared half of Apple News Plus’s revenue with dozens of other news organizations. Apple took the other half for itself.
However, many publishers have taken the gamble, including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and Condé Nast, which publishes The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired. Months after its debut, many publishers were disappointed with the sales, according to Digiday, a digital media news site.
Times executives broadcast Apple News Plus and later reduced the number of articles provided to Apple News. In an interview with Reuters last year, Mark Thompson, the Times’ chief executive, warned other news organizations about the risks of partnering with Apple.
“We tend to be quite wary about the idea of almost getting people used to finding our journalism somewhere else,” he said.
The Times said last month that its total subscribers had surpassed six million. Revenue increased from digital subscriptions, although the company is struggling with an advertising downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Times has long had a complex relationship with large technology companies. He experimented with working with Facebook, including an effort called Instant Articles several years ago.
But The Times stopped producing instant articles for the social network in 2017, stating it he wasn’t getting enough revenue. Now Facebook pays the Times to present its articles in the News tab on the Facebook app, the company’s latest effort to work with the news industry. Times articles also appear in Google News, which sends readers to publishers’ websites, unlike Apple News, which generally keeps readers in the Apple app.
In her note to employees, Ms. Levien said that leaving the partnership with Apple News should not have had a “material impact” on the Times business and that the company would work with Apple in other ways, including apps, podcasts and hardware. .