Apple News and CNN’s Great Big Story

Apple’s replacement for Newsstand, the Apple News app, has now launched in the U.K along with the latest iOS update.

The Guardian, who publish to the app along with the BBC, the Times, Financial Times, the Economist and Trinity Mirror (amongst others), say the news aggregation app aims to be a one stop shop;

“Apple News collects all the stories you want to read, from top news sources, based on topics you’re most interested in — so you no longer need to move from app to app to stay informed,” said an Apple spokesman.

News accessed through Apple News retains the look and feel of the original publication which may be part of the reason that publishers want to join the platform. But as Julia Greenberg at Wired explains, Apple is also firmly steering news organisations through a path which it hopes will balance the need for news organisations to make money through advertising, but at the same time give users a way to avoid annoying and internet slowing advertisements whilst browsing the internet for other purposes;

As on Facebook and Snapchat, Apple News offers publishers another venue for serving content to readers in exchange for surrendering a degree of control. The tradeoff may be worth it; news organizations will keep 100 percent of the revenue for ads they sell on Apple News, while Apple will pocket 30 percent if it helps sell ads using its iAds ad tech. The other reason publishers may eagerly get on board with Apple News is that, after iOS 9’s launch, the mobile web will become less ad-friendly on the iPhone. For the first time, Apple is letting users block unwanted ads in Safari. If iPhone ad-blocking catches on, news sites will be looking for other ways to monetize reader eyeballs.

CNN are also launching a new platform for news. Fast Company’s Sarah Kessler say’s that like Apple News, Great Big Story is borne out of a financial future proofing strategy which addresses the issue of dwindling U.S TV advertising revenue by packaging news so that it appeals to millennials with mobiles, is sharable on social news and can work well with native advertising.

According to Kessler CNN have been producing ‘bite sized’ video content for social media for the last 18 months. Over that time they have seen a 48% rise in viewing figures, but recognise that the strategy also seems to have limitations;

After Narendra Modi was appointed as India’s prime minister, for instance, CNN’s digital team made a video that swayed from CNN’s usual straightforward voice. Titled,”Is THIS the most interesting man in the world?” it pointed to Modi’s poetry collections, three-hour-a-night sleep habits, and large number of female fans in India. “It did nothing,” remembers Chris Berend, CNN’s vice president for video development and the head of its digital studios. “Because our audience comes to us for the news.” When the team put the same video on Facebook, he says it racked up 2.5 million views within 24 hours.

GBS is CNN’s answer to Vice and Buzzfeed, but it’s launch advertising suggests it want’s to be seen as a publisher of newsworthy content;

“This is a hedgehog wearing a tuxedo. This is a dog with human hands. This is a list of grilled cheese sandwiches that look like US presidents. Those aren’t stories. THESE are stories…”

Brian Steinberg at Variety.com explains the planned distribution model;

CNN said Tuesday it had funded the launch of Great Big Story, billed as a “socially distributed video network” that will make available newsy video stories for a generation that seems more eager to get information streamed to mobile devices than it is from the traditional TV set. Great Big Story will distribute its content via a web site and apps for both iOS and Android devices. But its tales will also show up on Facebook, YouTube, Apple News, Snapchat and more as November gets underway. The start-up, which is not formally part of CNN, will also tap connected TV’s through Apple TV, Roku, Amazon, and Chromecast, among others.


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