- The Wall Street Journal is participating in Apple News+, Apple’s new all-you-can-read subscription service.
- It’s not worried about Apple News+ cannibalizing the Journal’s own subscriptions. The Journal believes it can reach a general-news audience that isn’t already subscribing.
- The Journal was the only national newspaper to participate in the bundle, announced March 25, while The New York Times and Washington Post turned it down.
The Wall Street Journal turned heads with the news today that it’s participating in Apple News+, the phone maker’s new $10-a-month all-you-can-read subscription service, while The New York Times and The Washington Post sat it out.
The Journal’s inclusion surprised media watchers who thought the service would cannibalize high-priced newspapers because they can make more money selling individual subscriptions than they can selling them as part of a bundle. The Journal charges $39 a month whereas Apple News+ costs $10, and participating publishers share only half of that based on the time people spend with their publication. (BI Prime stories are also available in Apple News+.)
Read more: Here are all the major publishers in Apple’s new subscription service, Apple News+
But Will Lewis, publisher of the Journal, said the publisher doesn’t think the deal will cannibalize existing subscriptions but will reach new readers that aren’t already paying for the Journal.
“It’s an era of product segmentation,” he told Business Insider. “So there are millions of people that will continue to want to become Wall Street Journal members and have the full offering that centers on business and markets and finance and hard-core politics … but there’s also millions that will be attracted to a slightly different offering … that’s more snackable.”
The Journal said it plans to hire several dozen people in the coming weeks, including reporters in politics, US News and features, as well as editors, to support the Journal’s expansion on the app. Jennifer Hicks was named editor of news partnerships, to own the Apple relationship, working with the news and business sides of the Journal.
Lewis said the collaboration with Apple was a multi-year agreement and that it would extend to areas like video, voice, market data and AI.
The Journal will choose articles from its news report to include in Apple News
The Journal publishes thousands of stories a day and won’t likely put its entire news report in Apple News, but will leave it to the Journal’s top editor Matt Murray to decide what performs the best. That will probably skew towards general news, politics, and sports, Lewis said.
“Is all our content going on Apple News?” Lewis said. “No. We’re going to make sure the Apple News product is a wonderful product people feel comfortable investing in.”
For their part, the Times and Post said they were sitting out the news bundle because they valued having direct relationships with their subscribers and growing their subscription base.
“We’re selective in our approach to working with the platforms and view our relationships with them mostly through the lens of access to new audiences,” a Times spokesperson said by email. “We create journalism that is worth paying for so having a direct relationship with our audience is essential. As a subscription-first business, we are focused on growing our highly engaged global audience and we believe the best way for that audience to experience our journalism is on our own site and apps.”
The Washington Post said joining the service didn’t make sense for the paper
A Washington Post spokesperson said: “Our focus is on growing our own subscription base, so joining [Apple News+] did not make sense for us at this point. Apple has been a very good partner — we will continue collaborating with them on other ongoing projects and expect to do many things with them in the future.”
Other publishers participating in the bundle also saw potential upside. One is Meredith Magazines, whose magazines are mostly monthly and cost less than the national newspapers.
Meredith plans to have its 31 magazines, which include People and Parents, in Apple News+ at launch. As one of the former owners of Apple News+ predecessor Texture, Meredith was obligated to be part of the bundle.
Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines said the bundle is a chance to get new customers who aren’t already among Meredith’s 42 million print subscribers. The magazines Meredith sold through Texture accounted for just 1% to 2% of Meredith’s subscription base, he said.
“Our expectation is we’re going to get some net new subscribers,” Olson said. “We have a lot of female-focused titles, and women in general really like the printed magazine.”
One big sticking point for publishers was that Apple would own the data on subscribers and withhold it from publishers. Olson said Meredith would know approximately the types of people who are subscribing to the service.
“If we did have email addresses or physical addresses, then we could market to them directly,” he said. “But we think the opportunity to get to these new consumers outweighs the hurdles.”
SEE ALSO: Apple is pitching its new subscription service as a savior to journalism, but publishers say its logic is flawed
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