Report: Apple building publisher relationships through Apple News, but results are mixed

Last week, a report dove into Apple News’ growing traffic numbers, but the lack of revenue it is generating for publications. Now, Digiday is out with a new report exploring how Apple looks to build relationships with publishers through the platform, focusing on human connection rather than automation.

One publisher explained that the Apple News team, headed by Lauren Kern, is attentive to publishers and very clearly trying to nurture a relationship:

“They’re attentive, and you have the sense they’re human beings that are trying to nurture a relationship of some kind,” said a publishing exec who has regular contact with Apple News editorial staff.

Meanwhile, a CNN Digital executive explained that while monetization on Apple News lags, the platform allows CNN to reach an audience for political and non-political news. “This is very much a human interaction,” . Mitra Kalita, svp of news, opinion and programming at CNN Digital said.

Another publisher, however, recalled a meeting with the News team – initiated by Apple – where it seemed clear Apple was doing things by itself and didn’t want a lot of help from publishers:

One publishing exec recalled that in a meeting this year initiated by Apple, Apple News’ people asked the publisher all of one question. “They’re very condescending in their approach,” this person said. “It’s, ‘We’re doing this and we’ll tell you when we figure it out.’”

Earlier this year, Apple acquired magazine subscription service Texture, while other reports have suggested Apple is looking to offer an all-in-one bundle of Apple Music, magazines, and TV content.

Digiday explains that such a bundle worries many top-shelf publishers as they’d be splitting revenue with other services and platforms, based on use:

Top-shelf publishers have more to lose by being part of a bundle, where they’d get paid a fraction of the $10 subscription price based on usage, compared to the hundreds of dollars a year they can charge for an individual subscription. “What if it works? Then Apple News owns us,” fretted one publishing exec that’s eyeing the Apple-controlled subscription service.

If one thing is clear between today’s report from Digiday and last week’s from Slate, it’s that publishers are weary of Apple News, but that Apple seems all-in. Ultimately what comes of Apple News and Apple’s relationships with publishers remains to be seen.

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