How Apple vs Epic Could Impact News and Other Publishers

Stack of newspapers

The war between Epic Games and Apple continues to rage. While on the surface it might just look like a big games company griping with a tech giant, the ramifications could yet turn this into a Battle Royale involving other industries.

Could News Publishers Join Epic in Battle With Apple?

Amongst those that could demand change if Epic wins are news publishers. As Josh Benton, writing for Nieman Lab, noted:

Want to subscribe to The New York Times on your iPhone? If you’re looking at in your browser, you might get one of any number of offers the Times is testing and thinks might work for you. (In a logged-out window, I just got offered $1/week for the first year, then the full $4.25/week standard rate after that.) But if you’re in the Times’ iOS app, you get a rigid offer for $16.99 a month.

This means that a direct subscription its website earns the New York Times $52 for a new subscriber’s first year, then $221 each year after that. However, if a subscriber signs-up via the in-app purchase, the outlet $142 for a subscriber’s first year, when Apple’s 30 percent cut is taken into effect, and $173 once Apple’s cut becomes 15 percent. That’s $48 less than it would have got from a direct subscription.

That’s not where it ends though. As Mr. Benton also noted:

Apple’s rigid policies also make it harder to test different kinds of subscription offers — a free one-month trial versus 99¢/week for the first three months versus a discount rate for the first year, and so on. Propensity-driven paywalls are a real source of growth in digital subs for publishers, and they’re just about impossible to pull off in the App Store.

It’s one thing to take a publisher to take that kind of hit if everyone else is, but not if a maker of a popular game is operating on different terms. Amazon already has a special deal too, it’s worth remembering. And what about News+? If the rules loosen, will it still be beneficial to publications to be signed-up? Apple vs Epic could go well beyond games.

[Epic v. Apple: Judge Rules Apple Can’t Restrict Unreal Engine]

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