Although variety shows and drama series under the support of the idol economy have high topical traffic on major social platforms, the so-called explosions that deliberately focus on the fan circle are not enough to meet the increasing aesthetic needs of the wider paying audience.

The picture shows the poster of the drama series "His Royal Highness Wolf" (below) and "Yanyuntai" (right).

Drawing: Li Jie

  ■ Chief reporter Huang Qizhe

  A few days ago, the domestic iQiyi platform announced an increase in the Android platform membership fee. The price of 25 yuan for a single month and 19 yuan for a continuous monthly subscription is the same as that of the iOS client, an increase of 25%.

At the same time, Tencent also put the membership fee increase on its agenda.

Some analysts believe that the astronomical production cost of tens of billions of content for many years has made it difficult for the platform to maintain long-term operations, and price increases are really helpless.

However, more netizens suggested that the operating conditions of the platform's losses should not be passed on to consumers by simple and crude price increases and various fancy charges.

  However, the same price increase has a different response.

When news of domestic platform price increases caused many controversies, after the largest overseas streaming media platform Netflix announced that it would increase user subscription prices, its stock price rose by 5%. Overseas analysts believe that its profit model of relying on high-quality content to attract paying users has entered a benign profit model. cycle.

Earlier, the company's financial report showed that the new online economic opportunity created by the epidemic has allowed Netflix, which has been losing money for many years, to stop its losses. The profit in the first quarter of this year reached 700 million US dollars.

In contrast, this year's domestic video platforms have launched many word-of-mouth and phenomenon-level products, but the overall industry level is still far from reaching audience expectations.

Some users even pointed out that some platforms are too "profit-only". The charging model has been varied. Paying users still have to watch member advertisements. Popular dramas even derive additional charges for "advanced on-demand".

  The divergent opinions ultimately point to a crux-at a time when copyright awareness is increasing and users' willingness to pay is increasing, compared with crude price increases, how to improve content quality, increase platform adsorption and establish a reasonable charging model is the healthy development of the market The key is.

  The price increase logic of stolen exchange: users are willing to pay for high-quality content instead of paying for explosives

  In the past two years, the number of products and the number of members of the video platform is experiencing rapid growth.

Now open a video platform, as if you are in a dazzling array of hypermarkets.

Just looking at the variety show on a certain platform's calendar, there are 10 variety shows every day for users to choose from.

According to the data from the "2020 China Internet Audiovisual Development Research Report", in 2019, the number of subscription members on the two major platforms of iQiyi and Tencent Video both exceeded 100 million.

Affected by the epidemic this year, as an important form of entertainment for "homestays", major online video platforms ushered in a surge in traffic, and even caused server crashes.

In February of this year, the three topics of "iqiyi collapsed", "Korean TV collapsed" and "Xiaomi TV collapsed" were all hotly searched, which shows that chasing dramas and variety shows online has become a "just need" for contemporary audiences.

At the same time, a batch of high-quality platform self-produced dramas has also allowed users to reverse their existing impression of "quality depression".

From last year’s web dramas "Ice Breaking Operation", "Celebrating More Than Years", and "The Twelve Hours of Chang'an", the costume dramas and reality themes fully blossomed, to this year's "Ten Day Game", "I Am Yu Huanshui" and "White Moonlight" in the short drama track. The astonishing potential has erupted, and audiences have a lot of expectations for the content production capabilities of video platforms. Many entertainment critics also pointed out that under the pressure of the epidemic, video platforms are entering a stage of "quality improvement and growth".

  If you take a closer look, you will find that these high-quality works only account for a small part of the platform's content production.

As the new year is approaching, whether it is the IP drama "Yanyuntai" or the classic adaptation of "The Deer Ding Ji" and "The Origin of Love", the Douban score has not reached the passing line, and even hit the "freezing point" of 2 points. Go back to the old road of plot water injection, suspension adaptation and IP blind production.

Needless to say, the controversy surrounding online variety shows such as "China New Rap 2020" and "Actors Please Take Place" has continued. Compared with entertaining and teaching, the program deliberately concocted topics and created conflicts also attracted netizens' dislike.

  In this context, the sudden price increase seems a little unacceptable.

After all, users' willingness to pay is first based on high-quality content.

At the moment, the few works with fine quality and innovative features are not enough to support users for monthly or even annual subscriptions.

Regarding iQiyi’s price increase, users bluntly said: “Members are also tasteless. Except for the Misty Theater, they are all bad movies of traffic stars.” Although these idols are economically blessed with variety shows and dramas such as "His Royal Highness". "Youth with You" and other topics have high traffic on major social platforms, but the so-called hot items that deliberately focus on the fan circle are not enough to meet the increasing aesthetic needs of the wider paying audience.

  Diluted membership rights: The names of members who are forced to watch advertisements, single films and single dramas and still have to pay are not true

  It is undeniable that China's Internet content platforms have been cultivating the copyright awareness and payment habits of domestic users for many years.

In line with the usual routine of accumulating users first, then seizing the market and then raising fees, video websites have provided a large amount of free content in the past few years, and "burned" tens of billions of dollars in purchasing copyright stock and developing self-made content.

Even with considerable advertising revenue, whether it is Gong Yuxiu, the CEO of iQiyi, or Wang Juan, the vice president of Tencent Video, have stated more than once that "domestic membership fees are too low."

  Statistics show that among the top four domestic video platforms iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku, and Mango TV, only Mango TV is profitable.

Even according to iQiyi’s financial report, its net loss soared from 2.575 billion yuan in 2015 to 10.323 billion yuan last year.

In addition, short video platforms represented by Douyin and Kuaishou rely on seizing user fragmented time to further compress market space.

According to the "2020 China Network Audiovisual Development Research Report", among the various segments, short video users have the highest utilization rate, reaching 87.0%, with a user scale of 818 million, while the comprehensive video (long video) user utilization rate is 77.1%. The scale is 724 million.

In order to maintain its existing market share and compete with other long video platforms, iQiyi had to increase content investment. According to data, its content cost rose from 12.6 billion yuan in 2017 to 22.2 billion yuan last year.

Therefore, the logic of the platform is that the price increase is to form users to pay for high-premium content, thereby once again stimulating the virtuous circle of high-quality content production.

  If, as it says, members' income is used to stimulate content improvement, then a transparent charging model and rich membership rights should be given, so that users feel value for money.

However, high-quality content is currently lacking, and its membership rights are being further diluted, making the experience of paying users "a membership is to avoid viewing advertisements, but we are now viewing membership advertisements as a member."

As for some popular content, the platform also cleverly established the name through single-chip payment, advanced on-demand, and Star Diamond membership, to further induce member users to pay a second time.

I was complained by netizens, so that "changing the method of collecting money is ugly."

  "They are all charged members, speak harder!" This is a buzzword that often appears in barrage when watching dramas on video platforms.

Behind the jokes are users’ expectations that are raised after paying for content.

Right now, iQiyi’s financial report shows that its advertising revenue is shrinking, but membership revenue accounts for half of the total revenue.

Faced with such a situation, it is "cutting users' leeks", relying on simple and crude price increases to "recover blood" for a short time, or patiently focusing on the creation of high-quality content, improving brand building, and enhancing long-term and stable sticky relationships. This is in all videos. The survival of the platform and the capital behind it.