New York Times Ends Partnership With Apple News

The Times has long focused on raising its own subscriber numbers rather than allowing its journalism to be viewed elsewhere

New York Times headquarters
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The New York Times announced Monday it is stopping its partnership with Apple News, effective immediately.

“The Times is one of the first media organizations to pull out of Apple News. The Times, which has made adding new subscribers a key business goal, said Apple had given it little in the way of direct relationships with readers and little control over the business. It said it hoped to instead drive readers directly to its own website and mobile app so that it could “fund quality journalism,” said a piece posted to the Times’ website.

The piece also cited an employee memo from Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer, that said, “Core to a healthy model between The Times and the platforms is a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules. Our relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”

The Times has been hesitant to embrace Apple News, which curates news stories each day, in the past.

New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said in 2019 that he had reservations about Apple’s then-unreleased paid subscription news service and was “leery” about the Times’ participation in the service.

“We tend to be quite leery about the idea of almost habituating people to find our journalism somewhere else,” Thompson said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “We’re also generically worried about our journalism being scrambled in a kind of Magimix (blender) with everyone else’s journalism.”

The Times added a record number of new subscriptions in Q1, the publisher announced during its Q1 earnings call in May. There were 587,000 net new digital subscriptions in spite of the Times keeping most coronavirus-related reporting outside of its paywall.

Advertising revenue continued to be down, decreasing 15.2% compared to Q1 2019, but subscription revenue was up 5.4% from Q1 2019. In a call with shareholders, Thompson framed that as an “increasing emphasis on subscription revenue and reducing reliance on ad revenue.”