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Apple News Quietly Takes Off

Apple News got a major overhaul with iOS 10. Part of that was a change in its design, but there were other significant changes like human curation of news stories that have greatly improved the app. According to an article published by The Nieman Journalism Lab, those changes have had a big effect for some news organizations:

CNN… says its Apple News content got 36.5 million unique readers in September, a major increase from August’s 5 million. Its pageviews also increased significantly to 274 million, up from 43 million a month before.

“It’s really quite a remarkable story,” said Alex Wellen, CNN’s chief product officer. While CNN had seen “steady traffic growth” for most of the year,” said Wellen, Apple’s tweaks to its news app have changed the traffic picture significantly.

Bloomberg has seen a similarly significant spike in readership via Apple News. The difference appears to be at least in part a consequence of large news organizations’ regular inclusion in the Top Stories and human-curated Featured Stories sections. Other sites, like Slate, told The Nieman Journalism Lab that their pageviews have been flat.

Notwithstanding the eye-opening increases in traffic for some sites, the jury is still out on whether Apple News can generate significant revenue for news organizations:

Monetization is “still a work in progress,” noted [Bloomberg’s] Havens. Slate, in a similar position, is “not monetizing Apple News very well at the moment,” said Schieffer. Wellen said CNN “has monetized its stories,” though he wouldn’t give specific details. Ads still feel like a rare occurrence for its Apple News content; publishers are still eager for integration with comScore, a major hurdle to getting advertisers interested in the platform.