There are certainly some big omissions from Apple’s new premium news bundle, Apple News+, given that media companies like The New York Times and The Washington Post chose to keep their content outside of this new subscription offering despite an intense lobbying effort from Apple. Nevertheless, the company must surely be pleased with the reception to Apple News+, which it unveiled a week ago now during the media event dominated by new revenue-generating Apple services and non-hardware products.
Based on anonymous sources cited by the NYT, more than 200,000 people reportedly signed up for Apple News+ in the first 48 hours after its launch on March 25. That’s more than Texture ever amassed at its most successful point, Texture being the app that Apple acquired and refashioned into the paid version of its existing Apple News product.
One of the things we can take away from that estimate is that there are still plenty of people out there with room in their budget for at least one new $9.99 month subscription product. After a free first month, that’s how much Apple News+ will begin charging going forward. Which is why it will be interesting to see, first, how many of this initial 200,000 or so hang around after the free month ends. Also worth noting — if this is an indication of how many people will pay for a news product that doesn’t even include the most important newspapers in the country, perhaps it also foreshadows a similarly robust early customer base for Apple’s Netflix rival, Apple TV+, that’s coming later this year.
If I had to guess, a subscription to quality TV offerings probably ranks higher on most consumers’ list than a paid news subscription bundle, so we will see if this number can serve as a kind of Apple TV+ floor.
As a reminder, Apple News+ provides access to some 300 magazines as well as paywalled content from outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. The service’s 50% revenue share has rankled some media observers and publishers like the NYT, while one media observer told a Vanity Fair reporter: “If you have a subscription business or a membership business, and you’ve got, like, 9,000 digital subscribers, you don’t have much to lose going in with Apple.”