Text/Guangzhou Daily all-media reporter Wen Jing, trainee reporter Zhang Wenzhuo

  Recently, a short video series "Internet Medical Examination" has aroused the resonance of many netizens and rushed into hot searches on social platforms.

In the past few days, the reporter investigated and found out that although the three platforms of iQiyi, Tencent, and Youku stopped advance on-demand in early October, there are still many "pits" in the membership service of video websites: there are still open-screen advertisements and some movies after buying a member. To pay for purchases, to spend extra money to upgrade for cross-port viewing, to cancel the automatic renewal, to break through layers of "ecstasy"... The China Consumers Association pointed out that the video platform should meet the needs of users and provide VIP membership services. It should respect consumers and abide by it. The principle of good faith, abide by the laws and regulations, put an end to profiteering, illegal deception, and overlord clauses.

  Not only online video, online music, network disks, office software, etc., when the "fancy income generation" of Internet services ceases has become the voice of many consumers.

In July of this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology launched a six-month special rectification action for the Internet industry, focusing on rectifying issues such as application software launching pop-ups to deceive and mislead users and forcibly provide personalized services.

  "I opened the membership of the video website first, but in order to watch this new movie, I paid another 6 yuan." Consumer Ms. Zhu showed the reporter her billing record.

Ms. Zhu planned to watch the new film "Rage: Serious Case" on Tencent Video. After opening the membership of the video website, she found that this film had to be paid for to watch.

  I bought a member for two to three hundred yuan, and I have to pay for some of the content

  As a member of multiple online platforms, Ms. Chen said of the routines of these platforms in all sorts of helplessness. "The VIP of mainstream video platforms is about 200~300 yuan per year. When introducing VIP membership privileges, it is known as massive content, no advertisements, and hot dramas. Watch first, support multi-platform viewing...In fact, you need to pay extra to watch some popular new movies, and you need to add money to upgrade for TV viewing."

  The reporter personally tested and found that after the iQiyi App has opened a gold VIP membership, if you want to watch the animated movie "The Secret of Pets", you still need to pay 2.4 singularity (1 singularity = 1 yuan) to watch the full movie.

Similarly, reporters purchased members from Tencent Video, but if they want to watch the movie "The New Mummy", they need to pay 2.4 yuan. According to the platform, this is a requirement of the copyright owner.

The reporter found that sometimes paid movies even have "additional terms"-the validity period of the movie is 48 hours.

"Very unreasonable. If you want to see it after the expiration date, you will need to pay for it again," Ms. Zhu told reporters.

  According to the survey results released by the Zhejiang Provincial Consumer Protection Commission earlier, 76.15% of users have encountered the problem of "members still need to pay for purchases".

  Different ports have different charges, and it is difficult to automatically renew and cancel

  In addition, issues such as different port charges and automatic renewal of fees on different platforms such as video and audio have left consumers feeling helpless.

  The reporter's test found that the VIP members of many platforms are divided into ports.

Ordinary members can use it on mobile phones, tablets, and computers, but if they want to be on the TV side, they need more advanced "members."

The reporter saw in the Youku App that the current members are divided into "Youku VIP" and "Kumiao VIP". The former is used for both mobile phones/tablets and computers, and the latter is used for TV/mobile phones/platforms/computers. "There is naturally a difference in costs. The annual cost of the former is 113 yuan, the latter is 208 yuan (both prices are the price of the current activity period), and the latter is 95 yuan more expensive than the former.

  At iQiyi, the "continuous annual subscription" fee for golden VIP members who support computers, tablets, and mobile phones is 218 yuan, while the "continuous annual subscription" for computers, tablets, mobile phones, TVs, and VR terminals is 398 yuan. The one is 180 yuan more expensive than the former.

  Consumer Ms. He told reporters that video websites now like to engage in solo content, and the family spends at least 1,000 yuan a year on these video platforms.

  In addition, how to cancel the automatic renewal of the platform has troubled many consumers.

Consumer Aunt Su told reporters that she had previously opened a monthly membership of the video site and found that she had been automatically deducting fees for two or three months in a row. "I found out that it was a continuous monthly package after checking. When I wanted to cancel, the operation was quite difficult. In the end, it was my son who helped to fix it."

The reporter's test found that if Apple mobile phone users purchase the continuous monthly subscription package of Youku Video, to cancel the automatic renewal, they must go to the "Settings" function of the Apple mobile phone to cancel the relevant subscription.

  Expert: Consumers have the right to choose goods or services independently

  A variety of routines including advanced on-demand, online video and other content platforms, such as automatic renewal, additional payment for members, different charges for different ports, member-specific advertisements, etc., have been criticized by consumers.

  Zhu Yongping, legal counsel of the Guangdong Consumer Council and director of the Guangdong Datong Law Firm, told Guangzhou Daily all-media reporters that the "membership" service model launched by the video platform based on the wishes of consumers is not illegal in itself, but advanced on-demand needs to be "in order." The act of "unlocking to watch" violates the consumer's right to choose.

  In addition to advance on-demand, the video platform also has issues such as default automatic charging, exclusive advertising for members, etc. According to Article 18 of the "Internet Transaction Supervision and Administration Measures", online transaction operators adopting automatic extension, automatic renewal and other methods to provide services should be in Before the consumer accepts the service and five days before the date of automatic renewal, automatic renewal, etc., the consumer will be drawn to the attention of the consumer in a significant way, and the consumer will choose it independently.

  Zhu Yongping said that video membership service agreements are mostly format contracts.

If the platform has a clause in the format contract that obviously aggravates the other party’s responsibilities, reduces and exempts one’s own responsibilities, then the clause should be deemed invalid, and the video platform should fully protect consumers’ right to know, self-choice and fair transaction when setting up advertisements , And cannot use slogans such as "members-free advertisements" on the one hand, and on the other hand, provide advertisements in disguised forms such as "member exclusive advertising benefits".

  Member payment becomes the main source of income for online video content platforms

  For content platforms such as online videos, membership fees are one of its main sources of revenue.

According to iQiyi’s 2020 financial report, membership service revenue was 16.5 billion yuan, and as of December 31, 2020, the number of subscribers was 101.7 million.

The company's financial report for the second quarter of 2021 shows that its membership service business revenue was 4 billion yuan, the total number of subscription members reached 106.2 million (including trial members), and membership revenue accounted for nearly 53% of Q2's total revenue.

  According to Alibaba's fiscal year 2022 Q1 financial report, Youku's average daily paying users increased by 17% year-on-year.

According to the 2021 semi-annual report released by Mango SuperMedia in August this year, the company achieved operating income of 7.853 billion yuan from January to June this year, a year-on-year increase of 36.02%.

The revenue growth was mainly due to the increase in its main business Mango TV advertising and membership income.

The data shows that membership income accounted for 1.745 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 23.05%.

  Industry analysis pointed out that with the slowdown of platform membership growth, in order to find new profit points, the video platform's deep cultivation of existing paid membership users has become the only way to increase revenue.


  What are the other methods of "fancy income-generating" on the Internet platform?

  1. Office software: ordinary members "chicken ribs", advanced features need to be paid to unlock

  "I want to insert a word art into the PPT, but I need a rice husk member, but I have already purchased a member!" Mr. Li bought a WPS office software member, but found that even if he became a member, many functions were not available.

  The reporter's investigation found that the membership of WPS office software is divided into three types: "WPS member", "WPS rice husk member" and "WPS super member".

The WPS member center page shows that it costs 79 yuan to open WPS continuous annual membership, that is, it will be automatically renewed at 79 yuan/year when it expires. The member products purchased by Mr. Li belong to this category, and more than 80 items can be enjoyed by opening "WPS membership" Functional privileges, but if you want to use products such as document templates, artistic words, and exquisite icons in the software, you need to pay an additional fee to open the "WPS Husk Member".

  "When you opened a WPS super member directly, you could enjoy both the WPS membership rights and the rice husk membership rights. But now that the WPS membership has been opened and another super member has been opened, the two membership rights are duplicated, which is a bit uneconomical." Mr. Li thinks , WPS’s hierarchical membership affects his experience.

  2. Netdisk: Frequent upgrade advertisements pop up, and paid members are troubled

  In order to back up videos in time, Ms. Wang opened a Baidu network disk backup package. In addition to enjoying the rights of original painting video backup, she can also enjoy 3TB storage space.

"But Baidu Netdisk will still pop up a message, suggesting that I further open a super member, so that the storage space can be expanded to 5TB." Ms. Wang believes that for ordinary users, 5TB of storage space exceeds daily needs.

  Ms. Wang also said that since the opening of the backup package, Baidu Netdisk seems to have opened the "magic box" of advertising push, always reminding users to open various upgrade payment functions.