Apple Reportedly Approaching Publishers Over Potential Audio Versions of Apple News+ Stories

Several Apple News+ publishers have reportedly been approached over the prospect of turning Apple News+ content into audio.

A new report from DigiDay says that Apple is approaching select Apple News+ publishers to pitch a new audio stories expansion to its paid subscription news service, where voice actors would read articles in a podcast format to be listened too in the News app.

Publishers says Apple has offered to handle production costs, and compensate publishers in the same way it compensates them for the written content available on Apple News+.

Initially, Apple reportedly wanted permission to turn any story it wanted into audio. According to DigiDay, this has been revised so that publishers will instead pitch pieces directly to Apple in order to avoid any intellectual property issues. This in part would solve the issue of reusing content written and produced by freelancers.

“Sources at two publishers said Apple initially wanted permission to produce audio versions of whatever story they thought might be a good fit for the audience,” reads the report. “Those two sources said that now they will pitch pieces to Apple, partly to avoid any roadblocks relating to intellectual property. Some of the content that appears in Apple News and Apple News+ has been produced by freelance writers, and freelancer contracts typically do not allow publishers or third parties like Apple to reuse stories without consent or additional compensation.”

Publishers are apparently skeptical of the proposal, despite the fact it would come at no extra cost to them and generate extra income, explains DigiDay.

“Even with Apple handling most of the heavy lifting, several publishers regard the plans skeptically, three sources said. One said it has not seen evidence that Apple News’s audience will want to listen to audio versions of their stories. A second worried that if Apple emphasizes audio for News+, it could further skew the picture of who gets compensated: Listening to a story, after all, takes longer than reading one.”

Apple News has reached 125 million monthly active users, said CEO Tim Cook recently, but the company has not provided new Apple News+ subscriber numbers since over 200,000 users signed up for the service in the first 48 hours after it launched last year.

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