Apple has a new offer for publishers: join Apple News, and it’ll only take 15 percent out of your in-app purchases and subscriptions instead of 30. Publishers can apply to Apple’s News Partner Program to take that bargain, but they have to agree to Apple’s requirements, which naturally 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 to that channel in Apple News Format. If you’re based outside of these regions and do not publish in Apple News Format, you must share content via an RSS feed.
The primary function of your app must be to deliver original, professionally-authored news content.
Your app must be available on the App Store and allow users to purchase auto-renewable subscriptions through Apple’s in-app purchase system.
The Account Holder of an Apple Developer Program membership must agree to a separate addendum to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement.
So 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-authored news content.” Apple says the News Partner Program will also support and fund organizations that educate readers on news media literacy and “further efforts to diversify newsrooms and news coverage.”
It’s extra work to maintain an app and publish in an entirely separate, proprietary format, but based on what Apple reportedly asked of publishers in the past, this might 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. Naturally, news publishers weren’t very happy about that, especially once they found out Amazon got special treatment.
After the rough treatment, it’s not clear if the News Partner Program will entice former publishers like The New York Times. There’s also the consideration of how this looks considering antitrust lawsuits in which Apple is currently embroiled in the US and abroad. But the company hasn’t exactly been one to consider the optics of major business shifting decisions as of late, so maybe it’s hoping publishers won’t either.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Apple wanted publishers to support news media literacy and diversity organizations as part of the News Partner Program. That’s incorrect, Apple will support those efforts. We regret the error.