The Australian launches on Apple News’ new subscription service

National broadsheet The Australian has started making its content available through Apple News’ newly-launched subscription service.

Nicholas Gray 6 The Australian Publish 2016 keynote

An update in Apple’s latest software iOS 10 allows brands to put subscription-only content into its news service.

While Apple News launched last October locally The Australian has not been using the service for its news.

CEO Nicholas Gray told an audience at the Publish conference today the News Corp brand had made the conscious decision to stay away from Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages platforms, and instead concentrate on paid content rather than reach.

He said: “It is an inescapable truth that these three companies have created technology which has reshaped the world. They are all, after all, incredibly impressive global organisations with excellent consumer experiences and who have created compelling network effects and they have generated two trillion Australian dollars of market cap, that is the equivalent of our nation’s entire superannuation pool, between them.

Nicholas Gray 2 The Australian Publish 2016 Miranda Ward keynote

Nicholas Gray with Publish 2016 curator Miranda Ward

“But – and there is a but – these three companies now all realise that to continue their remarkable growth, with all of them having reach in the billions, they need to drive even deeper engagement, and they need to do that by housing our content.

“Because let’s face it, they don’t have any reporters themselves, as demonstrated by the Facebook Vietnam War picture last week, within their platforms so that people stay with them even longer rather than dart off to news sites.

“And that is fair enough, provided they have a subscription model.”

The content will be available “to those who take out an Australian subscription in that environment” on Apple News and charged at about the same as a current digital subscription to the paper, about $8 per week.THE AUSTRALIAN MASTHEAD - 2016 - USE THIS ONE

Asked if The Australian had negotiated down the 30% commission, Gray said: “We’re in the fortunate position of being part of the global News Corp group. There are negotiations – I can’t share any specifics, but clearly there are negotiations.”

Creating value was the theme of the address at the conference, with Gray signalling it was the paper’s concerted efforts around making content people would pay for that had led to it gaining 85,000 paid digital subscribers.

He also flagged the recent deal with iSentia by the Copyright Agency which he said provides “more value” to publishers and the media monitoring service.

Isentia_RGB_Hori_WebAsked whether the newspaper, which has been operating at a loss since the global financial crisis, was “back in the black”, as predicted by former editor Chris Mitchell, Gray replied: “My CFO would kill me if I gave you a detailed answer to that question.

“We’ve never had more people paying for our content, we have an outstanding bunch of advertising sales leaders and that’s heading in the right direction as well, and whilst we’re doing new things we’re conscious there’s a finite amount of things we can invest in.”

He also committed the masthead to the Audit Bureau’s digital audit, despite Fairfax Media pulling out of the audit.

“It’s absolutely worth it, the numbers are great,” Gray said. “We’ll keep our digital numbers in that audit for as long as it exists in that current form.

“Michael Miller said there needs to be a debate about those audit metrics, which is being had in the industry.”


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