We haven’t heard much about Apple News+ lately — the subscription service that provides access to a couple hundred magazines and a handful of premium news publications for a flat monthly fee — but it seems that Apple is hoping to draw more subscribers in with an extended trial period being offered over the holiday weekend.
First reported by MacRumors, Apple is quietly offering users in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to sign up for a new Apple News+ subscription and receive a three-month trial period, an increase over the normal one-month offer — but only as a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale, meaning that today is the last chance to take advantage of it.
Apple doesn’t seem to be promoting the free trial too publicly, however — it’s buried on the Apple News App Store page and within the News app itself, with some added text in the app’s description, along with a screenshot that also highlights the three-month trial.
This weekend only, get a 3 month free trial of Apple News+ and enjoy full access to hundreds of magazines and leading newspapers.
Users can also sign up for the free trial by visiting the Apple News page directly from any web browser, although doing so will simply attempt to open the Mac or iOS News app, as Apple doesn’t offer a web-based interface to Apple News.
The offer is a temporary promotion that’s only available through Cyber Monday, after which the app will presumably go back to offering the standard one-month trial. The offer also doesn’t appear to be available in the U.K. or Australia, where Apple’s News+ service launched more recently. It’s also presumably available only to new subscribers, although it’s unclear if those who cancelled their original subscriptions will be able to take advantage of this new promotion in any form.
Another recent Black Friday promotion has Apple offering a six-month free trial of Apple Music for new subscribers, with those who previously subscribed to Apple Music but later cancelled being offered a three-month trial instead — which basically gives them a net six-month trial when factoring in the three months they would have originally received when they signed up the first time. So if Apple follows the same strategy here, it’s possible prior subscribers could receive a two-month free trial as an incentive to give Apple News+ another try, however we haven’t been able to confirm that.
Either way, once the free trial period ends, users will automatically continue into a paid subscription for $9.99/month in the U.S. or $12.99/month in Canada unless they cancel prior to the end of the trial period.
Has Apple News+ Been a Failure?
The most likely reason we haven’t heard much about Apple News+ in recent months is simply because it’s been eclipsed by services like Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ that are almost certainly more compelling for the majority of users.
However, since Apple is usually pretty quick to advertise its successes, there’s also the very real possibility that Apple doesn’t want to say much about a product that hasn’t attracted the kind of interest the company had been hoping for. A report last month from CNBC noted that Apple News+ was having a hard time gaining traction, with a negligible increase in subscribers beyond the 200,000 that it gained in the first 48 hours, many of which were almost certainly free trial users that later dropped off.
While Apple itself doesn’t release numbers, since its News+ service relies on content from third-party publishers, many of them have a pretty good idea of how many subscribers are coming into the service, and even if the actual number was double CNBC’s estimate, it’s still incredibly disappointing for a company that boasts over a billion active iOS devices on which the service can be consumed. By comparison, Apple Music gained 10 million subscribers in the same time period when it launched over four years ago
So it’s easy to see why Apple wants to try and draw people into Apple News+ by offering an extended free trial, and it probably hopes that the holiday season will be an ideal time to let people try out the service. It also seems likely that this is an interim measure to get subscriber numbers back up while Apple attempts to work out a super bundle that would roll an Apple News+ subscription in with some of Apple’s more compelling services like Apple Music and Apple TV+.