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Apple News Service Said to Feature WSJ for $10 a month, Without NYT or WP (nytimes.com)
55 points by l9k 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

Broken record: online newspaper subscriptions are super cheap and are remarkably useful; when you can click around a newspaper site without popups, it starts to makes sense to use them as your news portal, which quickly weans you off lower-quality free sites like CNN.

Like the people that get the sleep apnea devices and won't shut up about how much better their life is, I'm constantly (and noisily) surprised by how shitty the news writing and presentation I was putting up with was before I subscribed to a bunch of actual newspapers.

I suppose "super cheap" is relative:

WSJ: $100-$150/year

WP: $187/year

NYT: $195/year

All of these seem to be promotional rates of some sort, or I lucked out and they're all on sale (unlikely).

So, that puts them at or above the cost of a TV or Music streaming subscription. If you're subscribing to "a bunch", that's pretty expensive.

edit: I should add, I believe all of these prices are a "with ads" price, which arguably makes them a worse value than an ad-free streaming subscription of equal price.

Blendle is a better option IMO. It's pay-per-article (and you can refund after reading if you believe it to be low quality), so it doesn't lock you into any kind of subscription from a single provider. And they have WaPo, NYT, Time, WSJ...

Articles usually show up there a few days later than in the originating newspaper, but for quality journalism that's usually not an issue, since it takes a lot more to write it to begin with.


Yes! Love Blendle. It's very convenient and the app is high quality.

Those prices are ridiculous, especially in a time where we should be consuming news from a greater number of different resources, not a select few. I understand that journalists need to be paid, but this is well above and beyond - this is to feed the investors.

I remember hearing that the majority/average person in the US doesn't have $400 spare for an emergency, how on earth are they expected to be able to consume "better" media on this business model? And of course this would encourage those papers to produce material that supports the views of the people who are able to consume it, only further adding to social divides.

> Those prices are ridiculous, especially in a time where we should be consuming news from a greater number of different resources, not a select few.

Leaving aside the comment about pricing, how do you consume more varied news than those "select few"? I read The Economist, NYT and WSJ every morning. Reading several articles (often on the same topic) across all three takes me about an hour. For a while I was trying to read Foreign Policy too but there's just not enough time.

I can only do this because I commute into the city on a relatively quiet train ride. I can't imagine adding another news source to this routine, let alone a bunch of them. What would you do, have a Monday set of sources, a Tuesday set and so on?

Many people who cannot afford a $400 due now emergency can afford $33 billed monthly for a year, even though it is very nearly the same total.

In fact, they can often afford a monthly bill where the total yearly cost is considerably more than they could afford up front.

Credit card companies make a lot of money off this difference.

The NYT is a public company. Its gross margin is 59%. Its operating margin is 11.5%. Its profit margin is 7%. And this is after the NYT grew massively after Trump got elected and isn't guaranteed to last.

Give me a break. The only true thing you said was that journalists need to be paid, and they're a massive expense.

I'm not sure where you are getting these prices, NYT's promotional pricing is $52 a year ($1/wk), WaPo is under $10/mo, less if you happen to have Amazon Prime.

For the most part, the promotional price is irrelevant to my decision to subscribe. What matters to me is the full freight pricing that I will be charged for my lifetime as a customer.

If I would be willing to subscribe at the promotional price but not at the regular price, they have a sales process that is designed to capture and retain my subscription dollars by obfuscating the true price at the time of opt-in and making it hard to unsubscribe after I realize how much it actually costs. Neither of these seem great from the reader's perspective.

Yeah the “with ads” is what led me to cancel mine - those prices are already high relative to other subscription services and they include ads?

Canceling the nytimes was also about as difficult as canceling Sirius XM radio (forcing a phone call). One level up from canceling a gym membership.

Maybe apple can force them to be better.

It's worth noting that the Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) only costs $100/year for Amazon Prime members, who also get the first six months free.

Having said that, I tried it out and canceled before the six month trial expired. Personally, I just didn't find the quality to be THAT much higher than CNN. Just non-stop Trump ranting, more or less op-ed content on the front page section, etc.

I've settled into a habit of using the junk cable news sites for "breaking" stories, and getting more in-depth content from The Atlantic (left-leaning perspective) and The Economist (right-leaning perspective). Both of which I can read digitally for free via my local public library.

(I actually started paying for The Atlantic, because it's only $20/yr and I feel good about supporting them. The Economist is ten times that amount, so I don't feel THAT good!)

I can't speak for The Atlantic because I don't read it, but I wouldn't categorize The Economist as right-leaning. Its positions on various issues are too nuanced; I think it would be more accurate to decompose its views into economic and social issues. Then you end up with something that looks economically conservative and socially progressive. But even that sort of leaves out a lot of details that tend to get smoothed over in more mainstream political discourse.

Take a look at the Wikipedia page covering The Economist's editorial stance[1]. In particular, note their presidential endorsements and their respective positions on climate change, drug decriminalization/legalization and American military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To drill into a specific example, consider that they've historically endorsed Democratic presidential candidates more often than not; on the other hand they endorsed George W. Bush in 2000 because they agreed with his, "small government, pro-market philosophy".

While they haven't done it in recent memory, they have in the past abstained from making any specific endorsement for a presidential candidate. More recently they haven't shied away from criticizing both candidates.[2]


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Economist_editorial_stance

2. Here's a fun one: in 2004 The Economist very weakly (and sardonically) endorsed Kerry by saying, "The incompetent George W. Bush or the incoherent John Kerry." In contrast they gave two ringing endorsements for Obama.

I think the problem is that some sites are charging for low quality click bait journalism. I am not going to pay for NYT or WP or the many magazines I used to subscribe to and dont anymore. I will pay for WsJ, The Economist and Bloomberg.

Its when they want both seo/viral traffic AND my subscription dollars that annoys me.

Not sure I would use Bloomberg as an example of high-quality journalism after their handling of “The Big Hack”.

I think steve19 is illustrative of the issue in online news.

Essentially, people are only willing to pay for "news" with which they are in accordance. Whether or not a particular news source is factually accurate, is very much a secondary concern. (Witness Bloomberg.) So you generally have two huge markets, one for "news" with a conservative bent, the other for "news" with a liberal bent.

Of course you have several markets, that are much smaller, for other types of "news". But very few markets where factual accuracy is at a premium. Add to that the fact that the few markets where factual accuracy is at a premium are small, and it's not hard to see why no one really caters to them. (All of that doesn't even consider the very real problem that it's hard to address such markets with a product that those markets would accept).

So pointing out the inaccuracies in Bloomberg, or CNN, or WSJ, or NY Times, etc misses the point. These media companies are in the business of selling "news". They don't put a priority on the business of selling accuracy because the business of accuracy doesn't really pay very well.

Think of it this way, you likely know a lot of people who consume, say, FOX or CNN, but how many people are you acquainted with who watch C-Span?

I was making a point about not buying news organizations that are peddling clickbait.

I don't think my choice of subscriptions illustrates the point that I am a consumer who buys news that suits my point of view. You are making the assumption that Conservative={Bloomberg, WSJ, Economist} (I would not call two of those three conservative) and therefore I am a conservative who refuses to read Liberal={...}

What it actually represents is someone who is sick of modern political discourse, tired of clickbait with false headlines and just wants classical news that can keep me informed of world events, specially financial events that may impact my daily decision making.

I want to pay people who will keep me informed, not people who want a slice of my attention or a slice of my emotional energy.

Point taken!

> The Economist

> Its when they want both seo/viral traffic AND my subscription dollars that annoys me.

Have you followed TE on Facebook or Twitter? There’s plenty of clickbait there, although they do now hive some of it off to 1843 Magazine and Espresso

I have not, my assessment is based on the paper magazine. Sad to hear they are chasing clicks.

They specifically create free content for social media.

That's been my observation too.

Something that might help: check your alumni programs, they may give access to subscriptions. Your public library may also have them; I was surprised at the amount of stuff offered online. I used to be a habitual paper subscriber of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books but switched after I found libraries offering free e-access.

One paper that I'm happy paying for is the Financial Times (FT). They're worth it.

Additionally the WSJ iPad app is gorgeous.

I pay for WSJ, but am somehow constantly required to login again and again. It’s almost infuriating enough to make me cancel my subscription.

If you're experiencing this on iOS, it's probably because of some anti-tracking "improvements" that Apple released with iOS 11. This feature unfortunately makes it so the WSJ subscriber cookie is forgotten very frequently.

I ran into this problem with an app [1] I built, which has a partnership with the WSJ and gives free guest access to their content. When iOS 11 came out, we got lots of support emails from people wondering why they had to log in with their guest pass all the time. In my experience, it happens at least once a day. Our users put up with this because we give them free access to the WSJ, but I can't imagine putting up with this as a paying customer.

1: http://www.readacrosstheaisle.com

Not all paywall sites remove popups, much less ads.

counterpoint: journalism is obsolete. At least from the standpoint of newspapers. Good writing is superfluous. The content and information that I'm really after is available in more condensed format through aggregators, reactions on discussion forums and summaries. Most people prefer not to read a long article. Just give me the TLDR, the chart, the stock price, the name, the temperature etc...

But where is the benefit if you aren't misleading them for your own profit and ideologies? /s

It's worth noting that Apple did not create the "50% revenue share" business model behind the Texture app they bought.

The big names in magazine publishing who created Texture did.

>New York, NY, December 8, 2009 – Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. today jointly announced that they have entered into an independent venture to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology that will allow consumers to enjoy their favorite media content on portable digital devices.


As for their revenue model.

>That service, which was eventually called Texture, paid out 10 percent of its monthly revenue to its owner-operators, who divvied it up based on the usage their titles generated. And publishers who sold their stuff through the service but didn’t own a piece of Texture captured 50 percent of the revenue, also cut up by usage.


Apparently the magazine industry and the newspaper industry have different ideas on what a equitable revenue share might be.

I'm confused why WSJ, of all publications, is jumping on board here. A look at their subscription page shows me that the cheapest option is $15 a month. This Apple News subscription product is going to be $10 a month and Apple is taking 50% of that.

I get the argument that Apple News will expose you to a much larger audience, but that level of revenue cut is... significant. Why wouldn't I cancel my WSJ subscription and sign up with Apple?

(an aside, but the 50% cut just seems absurd. Just reads like Apple saying "because we can", there's no way the cost of distributing an article is anywhere near the same as the cost of making it)

Maybe WSJ would only allow this on iPads and iPhones, and they think their higher paying normal users also want access on desktop devices? Maybe WSJ got something crazy like a 10 year exclusive without NYT or Washington Post in the service?

Still seems crazy... Apple seems to need the WSJ more than the WSJ would need Apple for this service. WSJ is a marquee name and content producer that millions of people are willing to pay for. WSJ is profitable and seems to do just fine in print and digital distribution.

While the $10 price point may be the correct one for all parties involved (a value price point expands scale without expanding cost) - the 50% cut seems wild.

Worth noting that after the first year, that $15/mo turns into $40/mo (which is when I cancelled my subscription).

This is why I don’t sign up to pay even at sites I would like to support. It’s very hard to tell how much I would end up paying after the trial. Yes it’s all there in black and white (or gray on gray) in fine print somewhere. I just don’t trust myself to get reading that stuff right and I resent they require such vigilance, so I don’t want to reward it.

It’s not that I would never pay, either. I do pay contributions to some sites where the amount stays fixed, such as a monthly recurring donation to Wikipedia.

There could be lots of deals. Maybe the 50% cut drops after they get to 20 million subscribers. Maybe the WSJ and the magazines will get a lower rate for being an initial partner compared to the NYT or WaPo who might want to come on later if Apple News gets really big. The fact that WSJ isn't going to have any competition from the other big national newspapers means they'll likely capture most of the reads.

Maybe they’re after people like me.

I like having all of my news in fewer apps rather than more. I’d subscribe to the Journal if it was part of Apple News, but as a stand-alone app, I’m not interested.

Similarly, I listen to as many of my favorite streaming radion stations through TuneIn as possible, rather than having a folder full of individual apps.

Apple's 30% cut on most things already seemed offensively high, 50% just seems utterly crazy.

> there's no way the cost of distributing an article is anywhere near the same as the cost of making it

IIRC actual "investigative journalism" is less than 2% of the NYT's budget. Even though the cut is very high, most media companies may be coming out ahead based on where they're currently spending their budget.

> IIRC actual "investigative journalism" is less than 2% of the NYT's budget.

Citation needed.

Probably because they're getting access to double-filtered (first by the price of the iPhone, then by the price of their subscription), creme de la creme audience to which they could show a ton of targeted ads?

» I'm confused why WSJ, of all publications, is jumping on board here. A look at their subscription page shows me that the cheapest option is $15 a month. This Apple News subscription product is going to be $10 a month and Apple is taking 50% of that.

» I get the argument that Apple News will expose you to a much larger audience, but that level of revenue cut is... significant. Why wouldn't I cancel my WSJ subscription and sign up with Apple?

You should absolutely cancel your WSJ subscription and sign up with Apple. I agree 50% cut is a little steep but I am worried Apple might not have enough clout. What's to stop WSJ from spinning off (for example) new media into a separate entity therefore allow Apple news access to only a subset of its offerings? Does Apple have enough power to call a spade a spade?

WSJ is $4 a month, cancel every 3 months and restart, takes 2 mins.

50% has been a standard in print publishing for a hundred years.

Maybe you get more content when subscribed directly to WSJ?

Former newspaper industry employee here... This is a mistake by the WSJ. They would be better served by reducing their ridiculous digital subscription fees and skipping Apple's extortionate gatekeeping "service".

The newspaper industry was founded on (although nobody really understood it until the invention of the internet) being the intermediary between consumers and companies. In 2019 the business has changed to content provision. But these old line companies (and who is older line than Apple and the WSJ?) can't help but try to discover intermediary points of control.


The WSJ online costs $39 per month, but the print copy costs $43 per month. It's pretty crazy, because I would expect the physical paper to cost much more than the online version.

I find it amusing that the NYT is reporting on its own business decisions.

It would be criticized if it didn’t.

I think it's so important that we move towards a model where we can subscribe to a selection of news sources for a reasonable amount. As others have pointed out, individual newspapers are as much as a netflix or spotify subscription - which may be justified. But even if everyone does move to a subscription model, it's bad for our society for everyone to have 1 source of news.

It's even more unhealthy if I can't have an informed discussion about the news of the day with you because you got your news from the NYT and I got my news from Times of London and we got two entirely different sides of the story and we can't go and see each other's sources of information. That sounds to me like a terrible situation to put ourselves in.

I would much rather pay $10 bucks a month and know that that revenue is distributed amongst the papers I read in proportion to how long I've spent reading each article- in exactly the same way Youtube tracks watched minutes.

> It's even more unhealthy if I can't have an informed discussion about the news of the day with you because you got your news from the NYT and I got my news from Times of London and we got two entirely different sides of the story and we can't go and see each other's sources of information

Probably not the best example. With the NYT and the Times of London, you might get different perspectives on a news story (as opposed to an opinion piece), but they will both be mostly correct. You should be able to have informed discussion.

To make your example work, you need something more like an AlterNet reader trying to have an informed discussion with an InfoWars reader.

Careful with that appeal to authority.

Haven't newspapers always been like that? If you want to see someone else's source of information, you would have to go and buy that days copy of the paper.

Newspapers seem to be the original subscription model--you only have one source of news.

>the most recent terms that Apple is offering to publishers ask for a cut of roughly half of the subscription revenue involved in the service

50% cut? And likely no access to customer data, with content embedded in a proprietary app outside of a news paper’s control... why would publishers agree to shutting off so many avenues for future innovation and strategic independence?

Apple News does provide analytics, just not user-profile derived data. It’s more general than that, but is available across categories like loyalty metrics, vague demographics, etc—without associating that information to specific users.

But you’ll have to investigate for yourself if you’d like to know more since I don’t work or speak for them and just have some personal experience.

There are publishers (including the Washington Post, who are not signing on) that have decided that they have to transition from getting lots of revenue from a few people (often in one geography) to getting a little revenue from lots of people (all over the world). If this is your new strategy, Apple's offering might make sense.

Note to those not keen on paying money to Apple for this service: RBDigital lets you download lots of magazines through your local library. Mine even has The Economist. I still pay for a subscription because I like the audio, but RBDigital is great for people who like plain PDF scans of magazines and has the added benefit of being already paid for.

> Publishers are also concerned that they won’t have access to important data about the consumers — credit cards, email addresses and other subscriber information — as part of the deal.

Why are credit card numbers important information? All they would know is what the credit card is, but it's not like they can sell the credit card or use that number to get more purchases, etc, from that number, can they?

As a former Next Issue/Texture user I really hope they’re going to do a better job with the UX. I really loved the idea of an unlimited magazine subscription but the execution just wasn’t there.

Same. I _recently_ checked out Texture again, having tried Next Issue years ago, and I was shocked that the UX seemed to be exactly the same. No movement in years! Still takes ages to download a magazine, still incredibly clunky to navigate. The whole thing feels years behind everything else.

I wonder for WSJ if you still have to call a high pressure sales line to cancel?

What confuses me most here is that the ethics of the WSJ, as defined by the beliefs of owner Rupert Murdoch, run counter to everything Apple professes to support. I don't know why they would support WSJ and not a more unbiased newspaper.

A 50% cut seems insane. Is there context that's missing here?

Because also, nothing is said about how the subscription is divvied up. Is the remaining 50% ($5/mo.) split among publishers by the % of articles read?

It’s time spent with the publisher’s content.

>Netflix deliver large video streams $12.99/month

>Apple News host a bunch of text and some images $10.00

Is it fair?

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