Jun 8, 2023 - Economy

Google to launch News Showcase product in U.S.

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Google on Thursday said it will finally debut its News Showcase product in the U.S. this summer, years after initially launching it in other countries.

Why it matters: The launch, which has faced multiple delays, comes as lawmakers in the U.S. weigh legislation that would force tech giants like Google and rival Meta to pay news publishers.

  • California's legislature last week passed a bill that would tax tech firms for news content. It now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
  • On the national level, a bipartisan group in Congress reintroduced a journalism antitrust bill in March for the fourth time in four years. While that bill seems unlikely to become law anytime soon, it's gained more bipartisan support each time it's been reintroduced.

Catch up quick: The News Showcase product is a set of features and dedicated spaces within Google's search products that elevate high-quality information for readers. The products are meant to help deliver more traffic to the websites of participating publishers.

  • Google committed to investing over $1 billion in News Showcase products globally between 2020 and 2023. It's unclear how much it's spent to-date. The program is currently live in over 22 countries and has payment deals with 2,300 publishers.
  • Google first rolled out News Showcase in 2020 in Brazil and Germany. Since then, it has expanded it to more than 20 countries, including Argentina, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
  • It was created as more countries began to introduce legislation that would require tech firms to pay for news.

State of play: Australia passed a law in 2021 that requires Big Tech firms to broker payment deals with publishers.

  • The EU passed new copyright rules in 2019, which member states must ratify, that forces tech firms to pay publishers.
  • Canada and New Zealand are currently weighing legislation similar to Australia's law.

Details: Google will provide new training and funding for 150 news publishers across 39 states, the vast majority (90%) at the regional and local level.

  • Examples of publishers Google has struck deals with: Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota; NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune in Louisiana; The Oaklandside and La Opinión in California; La Raza in Illinois; and Orlando Weekly in Florida.
  • In addition, Google has deals with and global and national publications like The Associated Press, Bloomberg, El Diario, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.
  • It will also increase funding and training for publishers represented by five U.S. news associations that collectively reach about 1,000 local publications, Google said. Those groups include the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) and Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).
  • It's also rolling out two new products within Google News that will help drive more traffic to participating publishers. Those products include an updated "Following" tab to help readers find news from publishers they select and a "Reader Revenue Manager" product that will help publishers with things like subscriptions and site registrations.

Be smart: Google's approach to paying publishers differs dramatically from Meta's, which is trying to get out of the news business altogether.

  • Meta has threatened to pull news in California over the new law being proposed. It's already begun testing pulling links to news on Instagram and Facebook in the country, ahead of the law potentially passing.
  • Google, meanwhile, has leaned more heavily into striking distribution partnerships with publishers directly, in an effort to broker those deals on its own terms.

The big picture: Google has not indicated how much it's paying certain publishers, but reports suggest that some bigger outlets have struck sizable deals with the company.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that The New York Times' multi-pronged, three-year deal with Google is worth $100 million.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Google, not its News Showcase product, will provide training and funding for publishers.

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