Inside Apple’s failed negotiations with NYT and WaPo

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Apple News+
Some aren't happy with Apple's tactics.
Photo: Apple

Apple put a ton of pressure on The New York Times and Washington Post to join Apple News+ before the new service was unveiled at a media event last week.

Details have surfaced of Apple’s negotiations with the two major publishers, revealing Apple media boss Eddy Cue was adamant about getting the two papers on board. Both companies declined Apple’s offer, but the New York Times’ COO hinted that the newspaper of record could possibly join the service in the future.

Cue reportedly made multiple visits to both the Times and the Post before Apple News+ was unveiled. He allegedly told the publishers that Apple would make them the most-read newspaper in the world.

The elevator pitch failed, but the company did reach an agreement with The Wall Street Journal.

NYT spurns Apple’s offer

Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien told Vanity Fair that her company thinks the best place you can experience journalism is through a relationship with a news provider. The company declined Apple’s offer because it already has a strong subscriber business.

Joining Apple News+ would have given people access to all of the Times‘ content at a cheaper monthly rate. Even worse, Apple reportedly keeps 50 percent of all subscription revenue, so the top publishers would be splitting part of the pie with other sites with fewer readers.

“I do not rule out that there will be an opportunity with one or more platforms in which we say, ‘Oh, this is really good for our business and for getting journalism to play a bigger role in many more people’s lives,’ Levien told Vanity Fair. “Thus far, we have not seen something that makes us say that.”

Apple reportedly told executives at both papers that it wanted access to all of their content instead of a stripped-down offering. Once negotiations with the Times and the Post failed, Apple secured a deal with The Wall Street Journal that gives the paper the ability to curate a selection of stories for the Apple News+ channel. The paper’s full content is accessible in News+ — but only for three days, and readers must search for individual articles that didn’t make the curated lists.

Apple News+ is launching worldwide and could eventually provide newspapers with a large subscriber base, thanks to the 1 billion active Apple devices in the world. For now, though, some of the biggest names in news are content to see how it plays out first.

“Our focus is on growing our own subscription base, so joining Apple News+ did not make sense for us at this point,” said Post spokesperson Kris Coratti. “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.”