In brief: Apple's News+ service may be getting a new format for news, where you'll be able to listen in much the same way you can listen to your favorite books on Audible. Whether or not that will become a reality depends on how much Apple is willing to compromise on its original plan to appeal to publishers.
Apple News+ showed a lot of promise for publishers when it launched in 2019, with hundreds of magazines rushing to sign in for an audience that measured 200,000 strong in the first 48 hours. But with an abundance of similar services that don't cost $9.99 per month, the company is looking for ways to further differentiate its offering.
According to a report from DigiDay, Apple has contacted select publishers to discuss plans on delivering audio news stories as part of an effort to improve the appeal of News+. According to some of them, the Cupertino tech giant has even offered to handle the production costs in addition to compensating them for the source content.
When these discussions first kicked in, Apple reportedly wanted to have the ability to turn any piece of news into an audio story and deliver them to the right audience based on an algorithm. However, many publishers feel like the best way for Apple to avoid roadblocks related to intellectual property is to have them pitch pieces they want to have in audio form on News+.
Still, publishers are skeptical of Apple's plans, mainly because they don't think they're going to generate any significant revenue for them despite coming at no extra cost on their part.
Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this month said during an investor call that Apple News has over 125 million active monthly users, 25 million of which were added in the first three months of this year. We don't know how many of these are paying subscribers, but even if Apple can't convince more of them to sign up to hear the news as opposed to reading it, it's worth a try just for the accessibility benefits that it would bring to people who can't see.