The New York Times has announced that, as of today, it will no longer be distributing articles in the Apple News app, making it one of the largest publishers to end its association with Apple’s publishing platform.
In a memo announcing the change, Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer at the Times, said the company wants “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.” She added that the paper’s “relationship with Apple News does not fit within these parameters.”
While Apple has had a tougher time getting publishers (including the Times) to sign on for its monthly News Plus subscription — which costs $9.99 per month and offers access to a variety of magazines and newspapers (including The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Wired, and more) — the free version of Apple News has offered a much larger array of news. While the Times only offered a few free articles to Apple News, its departure still makes it one of the biggest names to abandon Apple’s service since The Guardian left in 2017 only to rejoin the service earlier this year in March.
Apple News works differently than most other news aggregators: the top articles are curated by a team of human reporters, not algorithms, and Apple is strict about what news sources it allows into the app. Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple News has over 125 million daily users, although the company has yet to announce exactly how many subscribers pay for the premium Apple News Plus service.
For its part, Apple said in a statement to the Times that it “only offered Apple News a few stories a day,” so there shouldn’t be too much of a change in the overall content for readers. But with the media business becoming an increasingly precarious market now squeezed even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s possible the Times’ defection could lead to other publishers looking to strike out on their own, too.
Update June 29th, 3:40pm: Added that The Guardian has since rejoined Apple News in March after leaving in 2017.