How Two New Publishers Found a Huge Apple News Audience

April 17, 2022

Here at FlatPlan, we pride ourselves on our ability to offer specialist growth strategy for publications including The Face, HELLO!, Creative Review and many others. But, we don’t stop at household names. We also love to elevate the status of enthusiastic, young publishing startups. Engaging titles with unique voices are founded constantly, and to them we offer the same comprehensive strategic consultancy. An immensely valuable growth area for publishers of all sizes – and one we specialise in – is Apple News.

Two titles we recently integrated with Apple News are the relaunched The Sportsman and radical science publisher Freethink. Carrying the weight of its prior reputation as a respected sports newspaper founded in 1865, The Sportsman relaunched as a multi-platform digital title in 2019. The Sportsman “go beyond the game and find the stories that matter” and we wanted to ensure their distinct access reaches as many readers as possible.

Freethink describes itself as “a platform for the people and ideas that are changing our world”. It’s the team’s job to explain breakthroughs at the vanguard of science and technology in ways everybody can find fascinating.

The Projects

The Sportsman delivers a high-quality mix of news, features and video; a reaction to the fast-moving ‘churnalism’ favoured by some of the sports press. As a multi-platform publication initially unavailable to Apple News readers, it was missing out on a valuable new audience. Because Apple News promotes quality editorial content, The Sportsman was destined to find success from its day of integration. As was Freethink, whose cutting-edge coverage of all things scientific and societal gives them the integrity that Apple News’ editors and algorithms love to promote. Both lacked the bridge to take their content to Apple News readers. Enter FlatPlan.

The Approach

For both publications, integration had to require minimal development resource, with FlatPlan seamlessly handling the gathering of content, conversion of stories and delivery to Apple. We aimed for channels that yield not just traffic, but valuable new audience sources that drive genuine, measurable growth. The beauty of Apple News is that its combined human and algorithmic curation process reduces bias, so quality editorial content maximises success on the platform. It can be hard to gain visibility when your competitors are as strong as those of The Sportsman and Freethink, whose peers include The Players’ Tribune and New Scientist. But Apple News surfaces story recommendations to readers made on their in-app interests, so The Sportsman and Freethink are just as likely to appear alongside a big name as any other publisher.

The Results

Apple News’ emphasis on quality saw The Sportsman’s estimated visibility boosted by 117% in the six weeks after we launched its channel. Freethink’s audience has increased by 38% since we launched its Apple News channel. Both channels continue to grow every day. Here's an elegant, brand-true article by The Sportsman in Apple News:

An Apple News story by The Sportsman with Mathematics article design

And here's one by Freethink:

An Apple News article by Freethink designed by FlatPlan

These titles prove that you don't need half the globe as readers to reap rewards from Apple News. Here’s what The Sportsman and Freethink had to say about the integration process:

"As a modern publication with a focus on quality editorial we had a real need to build strong, loyal audiences, building our brand. Apple’s audience is sizeable and valuable, and FlatPlan helped us reach that audience, in beautifully branded pages that allowed our content to shine"
Ross Brown, Editorial Director, The Sportsman
“Thank you for making my life easier. That was one of the easiest and most helpful projects I've worked on with an agency in a long time. We’ve experienced an audience boost of 38% thanks to FlatPlan’s elegant, true-to-brand designs. The fact that we were able to continue with our day-to-day work uninterrupted meant we were able to continue surfacing content at the same rate, expanding our Apple News growth even further.”
Sean McVey, Chief Marketing Officer, Freethink

If you wish to increase your audience on Apple News, let's talk.

Next steps...

No matter what stage you're at in your discovery of Apple News, we'll help you get the information you need to make the right decision for your media business.

  1. Are you an existing Apple News publisher?
    Our expert team can audit your existing Apple News channel to ensure your integration is stable, determine how optimised your channel is, and provide recommendations that will help you make the most of your setup. Book a free audit now.
  2. Looking to integrate Apple News with your media business?
    Leading publishers use FlatPlan to grow their media business by leveraging the power of Apple News. With help from reader engagement tools, we help publishers reach new readers, nurture them into loyal followers and then funnel them to first-party data strategies on owned properties. Book a free consultation now.
  3. Still learning about Apple News?
    We're always providing insider knowledge and expert advice to our network of publishers. If you want to access that same material, head over to our Article pages, download our free Guide to Apple News eBook or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
  4. Know someone who might find this article useful? Share it via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social network you use.

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