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How Much Does it Cost to Build a Newspaper App Like NYTimes?

Fact. Average weekday print newspaper circulation is on steady decline – a 7% decline in 2015 to be more precise. People no longer buy a paper or a magazine to get the news. They merely go online.

According to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center, only 2% of Americans have named print mediums as the most helpful news source for the upcoming elections.

Yet, social media and news websites/apps have scored much higher rating.

And here are some more curious stats about mobile news consumption from a recent survey of 9,000 iPhone users conducted by Knight Foundation:

  • People spend over two hours of their mobile time on reading news through apps.
  • 70% of people tap to Facebook in search for latest news.

And here’s how much time one user spends within a dedicated app per session vs. mobile website:


Okay, so the users like news apps and tend to spend a lot of time within those. But what does it mean for you as a publisher?

The ROI of Newspaper App Development

Whether it is just $5,000 or $50,000 put in the app development project, you want to see some results out your investment.

Based on our previous experience in building solutions for the digital publishing industry, we’ve drowned the next positive conclusions publishers managed to achieve:

Higher Paid Subscription Conversion Rates.

Creating a “pay wall” for your website content can be quite tricky. After all, the modern user knows perfectly well that a dynamic IP address can be by-passed. Using an anonymous browsing mode or a web browser like TOR with dynamic IPs can allow them to read as much content as they want for free.

However, people tend to feel more compelled to pay for mobile app subscriptions. In fact, an iPhone user spends $35 for apps per year.

If you want to build a newspaper like NY Times, you may want to also adopt their monetization model – 10 articles for free via an app and the rest can be unlocked after paying the subscription fee. A lot of people don’t mind to chip in if the app will deliver them a personalized newsfeed every morning for instance – just like the paper copy used to do.

Mobile Advertising is On The Rise

By the end of 2016, over $100 billion will be spent on mobile advertising by businesses worldwide. That is a 430% increase from 2013 and the number is expected to grow further on.

Having a dedicated mobile app for your magazine or newspaper means that you can move beyond native ads and sponsored editorials to cooler solutions. For instance, create interactive branded in-app sections, featured video campaigns or targeted push message campaigns based on users’ location.

New Campaign Opportunities For Sponsors

Promoting and selling tickets to popular events organized by your publishing company or your sponsor’s gets easier. Again, you can target very particular audience segment based on their location or other personal data aggregated within your app.

Increased Reach and Distribution

Your magazine and/or newspaper strives as long as the readership continuous to grow (and advertisers keep pursuing you for those readers). Having a custom mobile app can expand your reader base and help you to tap to new audience segments, for instance, Gen Zs.

You can choose to go niche and create a brand new app that will feature only specific content. For example, the best of your cooking/recipes section with videos and detailed instructions or curate the latest real estate deals like one of the NY Times apps does.

So that sounds lucrative, but how much does it cost to build a newspaper application? With equal probability, you can receive a $10,000 project quote or a whopping $50,000 one.

And these price quotes are equally justifiable and not artificially inflated.

Why so, you ask?

The project quotes heavily depend on the number of features you want to include in your app. So, if you want to build an app similar to NY Times, you have to at least specify which one it is. The company actually has 14 iOS apps right now available at App Store:


And let’s not forget that they also have separate Android apps listed on Google Play.

Feeling slightly puzzled? Understanding the exact cost to build a magazine app or a newspaper app is simpler than solving the daily NYTimes crossword. Let’s start with some simple questions.

What To Choose: Native or Hybrid App


You’ve heard that hybrid app development can be rather affordable and allows you to create cross-platform apps simultaneously.

While that rumor is true, there are a few other important things to know about hybrid apps:

  • Hybrid apps usually look “alien”. Their design isn’t adapted specifically for different mobile gadgets. Why this matters? Slugging, weird-looking apps make people run in different direction. Whether you run a paid subscription or sell digital advertising, that stands for less revenues.
  • Hybrid apps are more prone to online security hazards. That stands for SQL injections, personal account hacks, and other troubles, which make your publishing brand look less credible.

Learn more about the pros and cons of native vs. hybrid app development from our previous post.

What To Choose: Android vs. iOS App

You can certainly develop both, which means that you’ll immediately cater to a larger audience segment. Yet that also stands for doubled app development costs.

If you are not quite ready for that, choose the more popular platform in your region:


Android app development usually turns out to be 10-20% more costly and time-consuming. Here’s why:

  • Larger device diversity. Today there are over 12,000 Android devices with different screen resolutions and tech specs.
  • Due to this large fragmentation, more testing and QA required for new apps.
  • Android fans don’t always update to the latest OS, meaning your will have to support older versions (and spend additional dollars for that support).

However, Android has a much larger user base, now accounting over 14 million active devices – a lucrative audience segment to tap to.

Bottom line: Pursue the platform, which is more popular among your readers. You can always develop a newspaper app for iOS first and then port the app to Android or vice versa.

What Cool Features To Include To Your Newspaper/Magazine App


Mobile apps typically offer a more interactive experience compared to websites. You can create a magazine app to retain your audience and boost the engagement stats (again, a rather important metric for advertisers).

Here are just a few ideas to consider:

Craft Your Own Feed: Personalization is now everything. People no longer have time to read all the news out there and want to have instant access to the most pressing subjects for them.

You can offer your users to create custom article collections, follow individual writers/topics, save content for later to read offline or even go as far as offering users to assemble their own dedicated story feed based on a number of criteria.

The New York Times, for instance, offers users to receive a mobile-optimized version of the Today’s Paper – same layout, same stories, delivered straight to their gadget.


Efficient Navigation Experience: Users want instant value when consuming content from mobile. They don’t have the time or willingness to browse through all the headlines on display. Hence, consider re-organizing your content into new categories. For instance,

  • Live/Breaking News
  • Most Popular Today
  • Saved Topics
  • Favorite Categories
  • All News Feed Categories
  • Quick search by keyword, author, headline.

Audio Stories/Podcasts: Sometimes you just want to listen to a story in your headphones instead of trying to read it from a small screen. You may want to consider creating a database of audio stories, especially for longer, narrative pieces for those mobile users.

Go graphic! That’s the route Symbolia aka “the tablet magazine of illustrated journalism” chose.


They are among the first publishers to create a truly digital storytelling experience. Serious reporting is backed up by interactive elements, animations, audio clips and attractive illustrations.

These are just a few ideas of how to make a magazine app that stands out from the crowd.

So What’s The Magazine App Development Cost Again?

A simple news app developed for one platform (iOS or Android) with attractive UX design, neat navigation and categorization will likely cost you between $8,000-$12,000.

If you plan to build a more action-packed mobile solution with unique functionality (e.g. self-curated user-feeds, custom video/audio content, animations etc.) the costs will go up can fall into the $20,000-$35,000 range. That’s quite a rough estimate, though.

If you want to get a better idea of how apps are priced, in general, we wrote another massive guide here. And if you want to skip the reading part and chat with one of our developers, scroll along to the contact form below!

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