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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The New York Times made headlines Monday when it said it would stop circulating articles on Apple News, because it "does not align with our strategy to fund quality journalism by building direct relationships with paying readers."

Why it matters: The move is forcing industry insiders to consider whether the Times/Apple split will serve as a catalyst for other publishers, especially those reliant on subscription revenue, to break with platforms that don't directly help them recruit paying subscribers or offer enough ad revenue.

Be smart: The Apple News framework does little to bolster the Times' main marketing objective, which is convert existing readers to become subscribers via its own platforms.

  • The Times has 6 million subscribers out of roughly 150 million monthly uniques (during a non-coronavirus era).
  • It wants to reach 10 million subscribers by 2025.
  • The Times has experimented with distribution partnerships, but it's also been quick to pull out of those partnerships when they don't suit its objectives, including Facebook's "Instant Articles" feature in 2017.

By the numbers: The Times spent roughly $168 million last year on marketing, including a substantial amount on Facebook, where it could easily drive subscriber acquisitions through direct-response ads, as well as The Oscars, where it could drive subscriber acquisition through emotional, splashy TV ads.

  • In response to the news, Apple said "The New York Times has only offered Apple News a few stories per day" and that it's still committed to supporting quality journalism. It says 125 million people use Apple News monthly.

The big picture: The news comes days after the Times said it would lay off 68 people, mostly in advertising.

  • In the memo announcing the layoffs, Times executives conceded that while the cuts are driven by the pandemic, they also "reflect long-term trends in our business and are fully consistent with the company’s strategy."

Go deeper

Tech's steadily tightening limits on political ads

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Nearly every major tech platform has acted to limit political ads in some way since 2016. Some have enacted strict bans and allow no political, social or election ads whatsoever, while others have put more temporary or partial limits in place.

Why it matters: Formal federal regulation of online political ads is not in sight, but the pressure on platforms from lawmakers and activists has so far been enough to push them to act voluntarily.

House Democrats tackle Big Tech "monopolies"

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The House Judiciary Committee says Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are monopolies — but its new plan to rein in their power won't change anything overnight. Instead, Democratic lawmakers propose to rewrite American antitrust law in order to restructure the U.S.'s most successful and powerful industry over time.

The big picture: The report is a long pass down the field of the tech industry's unfolding conflicts. It could be game-changing — but it also might never get completed.

Apple TV+ joins anti-piracy coalition

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apple's TV+ streaming service has joined the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPA) anti-piracy coalition — the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) — and will join its governing board. 

Why it matters: The move represents Apple's growing commitment to its original programming. The company has long championed creators' rights, but now that it's producing its own content for Apple TV+, it is doubling down on efforts to protect original content.

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