Apple could pivot to audio to bolster flagging Apple News+ service

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Some publishers report that Apple News+ isn't a 'huge boon' for business
Apple News+ could try offering audio versions of top articles.
Photo: Apple

Of all the services launched by Apple, its premium Apple News+ has seemingly made the least impact. And now Apple is reportedly pivoting to audio to try and raise user interest in its all-you-can-eat news and magazine subscription service.

That’s according to a report by DigiDay, published Wednesday. The publication claims that Apple has started asking publishers for permission to produce audio versions of its stories. These could be listened to like mini-podcasts or audio briefings.

DigiDay bases its information on sources at four different publishers. Apple reportedly pitched the idea to all four publishers. Apple will reportedly handle the audio production costs itself. It will then compensate publishers in the same way it currently compensates them for written content. The report notes that:

“Sources at two publishers said Apple initially wanted permission to produce audio versions of whatever story they thought might be a good fit for the audience. Those two sources said that now they will pitch pieces to Apple, partly to avoid any roadblocks relating to intellectual property. Some of the content that appears in Apple News and Apple News+ has been produced by freelance writers, and freelancer contracts typically do not allow publishers or third parties like Apple to reuse stories without consent or additional compensation.”

There is currently no timetable on when the rumored audio stories feature will launch.

Publishers reportedly remain skeptical about Apple News+

Some publishers are reportedly skeptical, however. Apple has largely kept quiet about subscriber numbers for its News+ service. According to DigiDay, monetization on Apple News+ is “horrendous” for publishers. The report also cites a second publisher saying that revenue has not changed since Apple News+ launched last March. Earlier in 2020, Liz Schimel, the Apple News+ executive in charge of the business side of the service, left Apple after less than two years.

Right from the start, Apple News+ seemingly rubbed some publishers up the wrong way. This was due to the 50/50 revenue split Apple asked publishers to agree to. That is far more than the cut Apple takes from app developers in the App Store.

Are you an Apple News+ subscriber yourself? Would an audio briefings feature help sell you on the service? Let us know in the comments below.