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New York Times Cools on Apple, Whose News Subscription App Looms

Thomas Seal

(Bloomberg) -- The New York Times has recently cut the number of stories it’s giving to Apple Inc.’s news app, the newspaper publisher’s chief executive officer said, as the iPhone maker prepares to unveil a subscription service for news outlets next week.

“We try to be intelligent in the way we think about our partnerships with these platforms,” New York Times Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said Monday at the Oxford Media Convention in England, answering a question about his company’s relationship to tech giants.

Thompson also is maintaining a tactical distance from Facebook Inc., saying the Times limits the number of stories it puts there. “We do not want the principal consumption of the New York Times to be on Facebook,” he said. The paper does spend “a lot of money” on paid Facebook advertising to drive subscriptions, he added, and the platform is good for marketing.

The remarks come as Apple is set to take a greater role in the distribution of news. At an event next week, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant is expected to launch a news subscription product that would let users read an unlimited amount of content from partnered publishers for a monthly fee. The service has reportedly received pushback from major publishers over the share of revenue Apple has proposed taking.

As Thompson’s comments highlight, publications like the Times that are reliant on subscriber revenue are increasingly focused on getting people to visit their articles directly on their own websites. That gives the publishers more control over users’ experience and a bigger share of the advertising proceeds they generate, rather than ceding both areas in part to third-party tech platforms.

At the March 25 event, Apple also plans to unveil its new video-on-demand platform that will take on Netflix Inc. Apple hopes an increase in services revenue can help offset slowing sales of devices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Seal in London at tseal@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, John J. Edwards III, Nick Turner

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