Apple has a new offer for publishers: join Apple News and it will cost you only 15 percent of your in-app purchases and subscriptions instead of 30. Publishers can sign up for Apple’s News Partner Program to take that bargain, but they have to agree to Apple’s demands, which of course benefit Apple and go beyond just maintaining a channel in Apple News.
The list of specific eligibility requirements to apply is short but worth sharing in full:
You must maintain a robust Apple News channel in Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and publish all content on that channel in Apple News Format. If you live outside of these regions and don’t publish in Apple News Format, you must share content via an RSS feed.
The primary function of your app should be to deliver original, professionally written news content.
Your app must be available on the App Store and enable users to purchase auto-renewable subscriptions through Apple’s in-app purchase system.
The Apple Developer Program membership account holder must agree to a separate addendum to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement.
Thus, publishers are expected to maintain their Apple News channel, publish in the Apple News Format (ANF), and offer an app in the App Store that offers auto-renewable subscriptions and only “original, professionally written news content.” Apple says it also wants publishers to help support and fund organizations that educate readers about news media literacy and “further efforts to diversify newsrooms and reporting.”
It’s extra work to maintain and publish an app in its own proprietary format, but based on what Apple has reportedly asked publishers in the past, this could be a welcome reprieve. Apple traditionally takes a 30 percent commission on in-app subscriptions that drops to 15 percent after a year, but before Apple News launched, rumors suggested Apple was asking publishers for 50 percent. Of course, news publishers weren’t very happy about that, especially when they found out Amazon was getting special treatment.
After the rough treatment, it’s not clear whether the News Partner Program will entice former publishers like The New York Times. There’s also consideration of what this looks like given the antitrust lawsuits Apple is currently embroiled in in the US and abroad. But the company hasn’t exactly been one to consider the optic of major business shifts lately, so perhaps it’s hoping publishers won’t either.