The Australian pulls out of Apple News; Fairfax usage limited

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 1 May 2017

News Corp's The Australian is ceasing use of the Apple News subscription service as Fairfax usage on the platform is now "very limited" and slowing, AdNews understands.

The Apple News subscription service allows publishers to put subscription-only content directly into its news service.

The Australian opted into the service only eight months ago but will now move away from the format as it did not drive subscriptions, GM of digital Stuart Fagg tells AdNews.

“Our primary objective is to grow subscriptions. When we got on board eight months ago we were keen to participate in something that would grow our subscriptions numbers but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case and that’s why we’ve decided to move away from the subscription service,” Fagg says.

The Australian will still use Apple News, which distributes content from partners through a news reading app, to distribute a limited number of publically available stories.

“Apple has been a great partner for us to work with. Our decision to cease publishing premium content via services isn’t a reflection of our view of the product,” he says.

The Australian is the latest publisher to pull out of an Apple service, following The Guardian’s announcement last week it would no longer publish content on Apple News or Facebook’s Instant Articles.

The Australian has never used Instant Articles, but AdNews understands News Corp has pulled back on the number of articles it is pushing through Instant Articles across other titles, including news.com.au and The Herald Sun.

“We do not use Facebook Instant Articles,” Fagg says. “There is no current support for subscription content there at this stage.”

Fairfax usage slows

Fairfax pushes 'some' content through Instant Articles compared to its limited use of Apple News, which is slowing, according to sources.

However, AdNews could find no recent evidence of Fairfax is using Instant Articles across the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age or Australian Financial Review.

AdNews understands Fairfax is reviewing how to optimise the channels it works with.

Pacific Magazines says it has run some initial experiments and “continues to evaluate both platforms for strategic and commercial fit”.

Yahoo7 has confirmed it does not use Instant Articles or Apple News and Bauer was unavailable for comment.

While some say Facebook's Instant Articles have proven to generate lacklustre revenue, some publishers have been more complimentary about the returns they are getting from Apple News.

The latest move from The Australian is further evidence publishers are pushing back against external platforms and the deals digital giants are cutting them.

Apple and Fairfax have been approached for comment.

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