Apple today announced a new initiative that will see makers of newspaper and magazine apps keep more of their subscription revenue when participating in the program.
The Apple News Partner Program means that if a publisher has a significant presence inside the Apple News app, including adopting Apple’s custom Apple News Format for generating articles, that publisher will get a discount on the commission on subscriptions taken out inside their native iPhone and iPad app.
This program represents a halving of the standard 30% commission for In-App Purchases, and means that participating news apps will collect 85% of the revenue from in-app subscriptions from day one.
Apple already offers all developers the chance to collect 85% commission on subscriptions for subscriptions that last more than one year. The commission is also set at 85% for apps that qualify for the Small Business Program, which take in less than $1 million in annual revenue.
To qualify for the scheme, a publisher must maintain a “robust” Apple News presence in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. This includes adoption of the proprietary Apple News Format, which allows for richer formatting of content. For clarity, this is wholly unrelated to Apple News+, which bundles 300 magazines and newspapers for a $9.99/month subscription fee.
The publisher’s corresponding app in the App Store must be primarily for the purposes of delivering “professional” news content and must allow purchases via the App Store’s auto-renewing subscription system.
At a high level, the News Partner Program is similar to the terms for the Video Partner Program, which was established last year. However, in the latter case, premium video apps are allowed to use their own existing payment methods on file. For news, it seems Apple is still requiring use of In-App Purchase unilaterally.
However, any publisher in Apple News is allowed to sell their own advertising, and they keep 100% of the proceeds.
Interested developers can register to join the program here. The rollout comes as Apple sees increasing pressure on its monopolistic control over the App Store from regulators who threaten antitrust action. Apple is currently being investigated by the European Competition Commission on multiple counts, including a preliminary judgement that Apple unfairly favored Apple Music over rival music-streaming services. Similar government action is under way worldwide, including in the US.
Apple is also currently in the midst of a lawsuit with Epic Games, who argues that App Store terms are anti-competitive and illegal. The trial concluded a couple of months ago and we are currently waiting to hear the judge’s verdict. Of course, any decision is going to be appealed to the higher courts.
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