Apple’s paid subscription news service has launched in the UK with the Times and Sunday Times the first newspapers on board.
Apple News Plus launched in the US and Canada in March with more than 300 titles signed up, and has now expanded to the UK and Australia.
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For £9.99 per month UK subscribers can access the more than 150 magazines signed up so far, including Empire, Grazia, Cosmopolitan UK, Esquire UK, Four Four Two, Hello, Q and Men’s Health UK.
Press Gazette understands that all articles from participating newsbrands and magazines are available on Apple News, not just select articles, with the exception of content such as crosswords that don’t fit in the app format.
Currently a Times digital subscription costs £26 a month as standard.
Times and Sunday Times editorial staff will work with the Apple News editorial team to decide what articles get “highlighted” on the app.
Apple News customers in the UK can also read a number of US titles including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, New York Magazine, The Atlantic and Vox.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, parent company of the Times and Sunday Times, has signed up in all three territories – the WSJ is also News Corp owned, while News Corp Australia’s portfolio of titles including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun is on board.
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said: “We are proud to partner globally with a company that truly believes in the profundity of provenance and that there should be a premium for premium journalism.
“Apple has acted positively, honorably and decisively to change the digital landscape, while other gatekeepers, such as Google, prefer hype and hypocrisy.”
Google last week announced it would not pay publishers in France to share previews of news stories in its search results despite new European Copyright Directive-based legislation, instead removing the snippets altogether.
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks said putting the Times and Sunday Times, and their associated magazines, on Apple News Plus would bring new revenues to the company and allow it to reach a wider audience.
It has been reported that Apple proposed a 50/50 subscription fee split between itself and publishers, but the company has never confirmed this and declined to comment today.
However, Apple did reveal at the News Plus launch event in March that publishers could keep 100 per cent of the advertising revenue they sell against their content and, if they choose not to do so, a large portion of the ad revenue Apple sells against their content.
Apple also said it would not allow advertisers to track users.
Brooks added that Apple “recognises the value of our world-class journalism” and said the launch was “the next step as we evolve our digital strategy”.
Times editor John Witherow said the move would reinforce the belief “that quality journalism should be paid for”.
Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens added: “The breadth of The Sunday Times means that we already have a wide base of subscribers, with more than 300,000 people choosing to access our full digital service.
“This Apple agreement will allow many more people to sample our brilliant journalism in a new and different reading experience, which we hope will be a great success.”
Magazines on Apple Plus News will give readers full cover to cover access for both current and past issues, with notifications when a new issue of their favourite titles are released, offline reading and animated covers.
Bauer, which is launching 29 titles on the UK platform including Empire, Grazia and Heat, said Apple Plus News would complement its print titles as an “exciting new distribution channel”.
Bauer Publishing UK chief executive Rob Munro-Hall said: “As people increasingly turn to digital platforms to access news and entertainment, this collaboration enables our market-leading magazines to be available at the click of a button in a user-friendly, interactive format.
“It puts our publications in the hands of every Apple device user.”
The service will also give readers personalised recommendations while Apple News editors will curate collections of articles and featured issues, the company said.
Apple News editor-in-chief Lauren Kern said: “The quality of the journalism, the beautiful photography, the stunning live covers and custom-designed articles in this collection are second to none.
“We think readers in the UK will be delighted with the offering, and we are proud to support the work of our newest publisher partners.”
The free Apple News app, which collects articles from across the internet with top and trending stories sections and a personalised feed, will remain available to iPhone and iPad users.
Apple claims the app is the “number one” news app, citing Comscore data from the UK and the US.
The chief executive of digital magazine subscription service Readly said the company was “well-equipped” to meet new competitors like Apple.
Maria Hedengren, who leads the company often dubbed the “Spotify for magazines”, said: “It is without doubt a change in the market when a global player is moving into your territory.
“But it comes as no surprise to us – the global consumer magazine industry has a turnover of almost €70bn and the consumption of e-media is increasing.
“Competition is good – it keeps us on our toes. We also believe that Apple can help grow the overall market since they will join us in uncovering the digital reading experience.”