Semafor: ‘As Clicks Dry Up for News Sites, Could Apple News Be a Lifeline?’

Max Tani, writing for Semafor:

Like many digital publishers, The Daily Beast was struggling at the end of 2023. Facebook, long a primary driver of clicks to the publication, had turned away from news. Search traffic had become increasingly erratic, as Google adjusted its algorithm to combat a flood of AI-powered junk. The site’s paid subscription program had atrophied since Donald Trump left office.

But it had a new lifeline: Apple.

Late last year, the digital news tabloid (where I worked from 2018 to 2021 as a media reporter) entered into Apple’s partnership program, called Apple News+. The program made all of the publication’s buzziest exclusives available to paying Apple subscribers, behind Apple’s own paywall. And the impact for a mid-sized news site was immediate, putting the Beast on track to make between $3-4 million in revenue this year from Apple News alone — more than its own standalone subscription program, and without much additional cost.

Apple News+ is yet another example of Apple successfully playing long games, with patience and determination. Apple Pay is another example. When it debuted in 2019 Apple News+ was largely written off. But now I’m seeing more and more stories like this, writing about it as a success.

Could be some lessons here regarding knee-jerk no-patience “Apple is late to AI” takes.

Tuesday, 21 May 2024