Text / Kong Yuexin and Feng Xiaoting
This suspected “resurrection” of the “advance on-demand” move that was originally suspended has undoubtedly ignited the sensitivity of netizens to the temptation to increase the price of long videos.
As soon as the news came out, except for a small number of fans who felt “happy” by watching it in advance, there were more “scoldings” on major social media.
“You can obviously steal the money, and you even sent me a preview.” “I found the reason for not adding more updates. You are waiting to cut my leeks here.” Hualu”, immediately uninstall Tencent Video.”
On June 23, the number of readings on the topic of #梦华书大final screening ceremony# exceeded 210 million times, and the number of discussions exceeded 57,000 times.
Source/Weibo Screenshot of Ran Finance
From the perspective of the industry, the reason why Tencent Video’s operation can “spark a thousand waves” is actually a concentrated expression of audience dissatisfaction or controversy over the price changes of long and short video platform products/services.
Recently, the price of long video platforms has increased frequently. Since the end of last year, in order to counteract the barrier of peak membership growth and increase revenue, Aiyou Tengmang has successively implemented member price increases, and the increase is not small, and the time interval is still short.
Not only long video platforms, but also medium and short videos have begun to add various paid services. In this case, the audience continues to pay for the members whose prices have increased, which has a sense of “pressing down the gourd and making a scoop”.
“The most important thing is that although the major platforms have raised the price of membership, the products and supporting services have not only failed to keep up, but have a tendency to decrease or decline. Under this kind of long-term dissatisfaction with long videos, any platform will appear arbitrary. ‘The trouble’ will lead to intense discussions or disputes.” said Zhang Yi, CEO of iiMedia Research.
In fact, the fundamental reason for Tencent Video’s radical approach this time is that the platform has an urgent need for profitability under the long-term video loss year after year.
For the long video platform, the continuous investment of capital in the past ten years, including the cost of content, operation, bandwidth, etc., has been increasing, but the day when the net profit returns is far away. In this context, the platform must save itself by increasing revenue and reducing expenditure, increasing profits to ensure breakeven, and even profitability.
“Therefore, video platforms are currently unable to take into account the feelings of users and the response of the market. As long as it is a way to make money that does not violate laws and ethics, they will try it.” Zhang Yi said.
Ji Ying, a practitioner in the film and television industry, believes that Tencent Video’s “super point” this time is a “stinking move”: “It’s okay to be scolded, they are too arrogant and look too ugly, which will naturally arouse the audience’s disgust.”
Every time the membership business (price increase) is adjusted, the long video platform will fall into the whirlpool of public opinion. Is the Tencent video that was broadcast live this time a “favorite fan” or “unsightly”?
goose was scolded
“What our fans have always wanted is ‘additional’, not ‘advance on demand’!”
After learning that Tencent Video will open the finale of “Meng Hualu” ahead of schedule, drama fan Zhang Lulu angrily expressed his dissatisfaction in the topic comment area, and called on fans to report Tencent Video’s move, “This so-called ‘finale screening ceremony’ ‘What’s the difference from the ‘advance on demand’ that was canceled by the platform? Changed the name and continued to cut leeks.”
“To a large extent, advanced on-demand means that ‘see you on the Internet’, the result of piracy flying all over the sky will inevitably affect the broadcast volume of this drama.” Zhang Lulu told Ranjing Finance that drama fans have long been complaining about Tencent Video, “” Since the launch of “Meng Hua Lu”, the main creator has been scolded, the plot has been scolded, and the characters have been scolded one after another. Fans of the drama watch the drama three days a week and seven days against the black. Tencent Video has done nothing about it. I have a hard time accepting that.”
Those who are dissatisfied with Tencent Video are not only fans of the show, but also passers-by.
“Again? I bought a membership and I have to pay to watch the finale in advance. What’s the matter?”televisionWhen A Mao, a drama fan, swiped Weibo to see the topic of “Menghualu Finale Screening Ceremony”, he was still a little excited. He felt that he finally didn’t have to wait until July to watch the finale, but he carefully watched Tencent Video’s “Rules of the Game” “After that, Ah Mao expressed that it was difficult to understand.
“The reason why the advanced on-demand service of drama series was canceled is that Tencent Video has no point in mind. Consumers have purchased VIP membership services, but they have to pay more to enjoy some rights. I hope Tencent Video can remember that it was already last year. Announced the cancellation of the advance on-demand service, stop engaging in these fancy activities and delusions.” A Mao said.
As A Mao said, Tencent Video’s practice of “pointing the finale” for “Menghualu” does seem to be overshadowed.
According to the rules of Tencent Video, the live broadcast of the finale screening ceremony of “Meng Hualu” will start on June 26, but only any gift package in the “Meng Hualu” finale screening ceremony can be purchased during the event. users are only eligible to watch the live broadcast of the screening ceremony. There are three kinds of the above-mentioned “gift packages”, namely, the “Gu Pan Shenghui Gift Package” of 18 yuan, the “Dumping Cover as the Old Gift Package” of 40 yuan, and the 258 yuan “Browse with a Case”.
Figure/Three kinds of “Final Finale Screening Ceremony” gift packages Source/Tencent Video Screenshot of Ran Finance
In addition to the increase or decrease in the content of the three packages, the basic “point screening gift live viewing coupon” and the gift “episode 33-40 viewing coupon” are included.
“In fact, the extra VIP membership rights and peripheral packages can’t be sold at such a high price. Most of the old users renew for the membership renewal activities, and rarely buy video members at the original price. Obviously, the 18 yuan gift package is what Tencent Video wants. The key point of selling to the audience.” Amao shook his head helplessly, “The so-called finale screening, whether it is a viewing coupon giveaway, isn’t it all ‘advance on demand’ in a cloak? Live broadcast entrance and viewing qualifications have to be paid for To enjoy it, it’s just a different way of saying it’s the same.”
Xu is that Tencent Video has done the same to avoid reality when it makes “advance on demand”. Tencent Video has also opened up access channels other than “purchasing gift packs”, which are points exchange and lottery draws.
According to the rules, during the event, Tencent Video VIP members can use 2888 member points to exchange for “Gupan Shenghui Gift Pack”. In addition, each Tencent Video VIP member can enjoy 1 free lottery chance, and participating in the lottery will have the opportunity to win “Gupan Shenghui Gift Pack”. “Shenghui Gift Pack”, WeChat red envelope cover and other valuable benefits.
However, it is not easy to obtain the “Gupan Shenghui Gift Pack” through these two channels. If you want to get Tencent Video points, you can only get 10 points by spending 1 yuan. In this regard, Amao told Ranjing Finance that although he has been a VIP member of Tencent Video for many years, his points are 0, “I have never spent on Tencent Video, VIP members are all buying joint membership rights or there are activities on the e-commerce platform. I just renew the fee.”
The way to obtain gift packages by lottery is more “resigned to fate”. Although it is shown that there are 20,000 copies of “Gu Panshenghui Gift Packages”, there are various prizes in the lottery, and the probability of winning the lottery has not been announced to the public. Zhang Lulu and A Maobian did not draw anything.
“Ahead On Demand” Makes a Comeback
As of the time of publication, more than 200,000 people have made reservations for the live broadcast of “The Finale of “Meng Hualu”. If each viewer buys a gift package of 18 yuan, Tencent Video can make a profit of 3.6 million yuan.
3.6 million yuan is nothing to Tencent Video, the founder of the “advance on-demand” model. It can even be said that “the finale” is just one of the marketing methods that Tencent Video has played well.
In 2019, Tencent Video’s delayed drama “Chen Qingling” was a hit. As the show was approaching its finale, Tencent Video took advantage of the opportunity to launch a membership benefit of “Watching the Finale in Advance”. Users can pay 6 yuan per episode. Price, pay to unlock the remaining 5 episodes, and 30 yuan can be packaged to unlock the finale.
Even though users scolded all over the place at the time, Tencent Video made a lot of money from it. According to the film party at the celebration banquet, the number of paid on-demand viewers of “Chen Qing Ling” reached 5.2 million, and the total amount of advance payment reached 156 million yuan.
Since then, the advanced on-demand mode that achieved good results in “Chen Qingling” began to be imitated and applied by major video platforms. For a time, advanced on-demand became the standard for popular dramas. At the end of 2019, the hit drama “Celebrating More Than Years”, which was co-broadcasted by Tencent Video and iQiyi, also made “advanced on-demand” as it approached the end.
However, “Celebrating More Than Years” did not copy the “myth of making wealth” in “Chen Qing Ling”, but sent itself into a storm of public opinion in one fell swoop.
In December 2019, [email protected]’s Daily commented on the advance on-demand of “Qing Yu Nian”, “VIP is set up in addition to VIP, and extra money can be used to enjoy advanced on-demand video. The video website is creating anxiety to induce user consumption. Is there such a stipulation in the VIP agreement? If it is not indicated, this extra charge is actually a violation of consumer rights.”
After the announcement of the People’s Daily, legal blogger @ Wu Shengwei wsw also filed a lawsuit against iQIYI to court, arguing that during the broadcast of the TV series “Celebrating More Than Years”, iQIYI’s “pay-forward-on-demand” model has made It needs to pay extra to watch the latest episodes, hurting its membership rights.
At that time, there was a lot of noise about whether “advance on demand” violated the rights and interests of consumers. However, until 2021, after the Shanghai Consumer Protection Committee and the China Consumers Association “called by name”, this model was suspended one after another.
In August 2021, the Shanghai Municipal Consumer Protection Committee directly issued a document, “Sweeping the Black Storm” is on-demand ahead of time to engage in bundled sales, and Tencent Video ignores consumers’ right to choose. It is believed that consumers have the right to choose in accordance with the law, and Tencent Video should not stipulate “unlock and watch in order” in the advance on-demand broadcast of the TV series “Sweeping the Black Storm”. In this regard, Tencent Video released the “Statement on Optimizing Advanced VOD Services”, saying that it will adjust the unlocking rules as soon as possible to support the unlocking of user selections.
In September 2021, the China Consumers Association issued an opinion saying, “Less routines and more sincerity. Video platform VIP services should be in compliance with laws and regulations, and the quality and price.” In October of the same year, the three major platforms of iQiyi, Tencent Video and Youku One after another announced the complete cancellation of advance on-demand.
Figure / Screenshot of Rancai on the official website of the China Consumers Association
It’s just that although “advance on demand” has been canceled, the platform obviously does not want to broadcast the traffic gathered by popular dramas. Attempting to use the method of “old wine in a new bottle” to get drunk for the audience of the hit drama “Top”.
In April 2022, at the end of the broadcast of the hit Youku drama “My Name is Zhao Jiadi”, the audience found that on the basis of purchasing VIP members to enjoy “VIP members’ first look”, they had to invite 5 friends to help them. Unlock the latest episodes 23 and 24. Moreover, the invited helpers for the two episodes cannot be repeated, which means that if you want to follow the drama, you have to get 10 friends to help.
But obviously, this kind of “slashing a knife” activity method is not accepted by users, and Youku did not use this “friend help” method in the follow-up episodes of “My Name is Zhao Jiadi”.
Also because consumers did not pay, Mango urgently withdrew the original “Shangshi” live broadcast finale event in March this year.
From the name of the event, it is not difficult to find that Tencent Video’s “Menghualu Finale Screening Ceremony” is exactly the same as Mango’s “Shangshi” to accompany the live broadcast finale. The practice of packaging “advance on-demand” as “live on-demand” is nothing but rebirth.
However, Mango quietly took down the event and played the episode as originally scheduled amid a series of denunciations such as “paying for it and not watching it back” and “not as good as the previous on-demand video”. In comparison, Tencent Video’s preparations for this event were more “thoughtful”, taking into account the needs of paying viewers to watch back, and included “viewing coupons” as “gifts”.
Short-sighted “goose”, difficult to make profits
In fact, for long videos, it is not difficult to understand the fancy “revenue creation”. After all, the revenue pressure in 2022 is particularly huge.
On the one hand, iQiyi claims to achieve “breakeven” within this year, and on the other hand, Netflix’s rapid growth is “shattered”, and foreign streaming media are preparing to open up advertising revenue channels.
When the overall film and television environment is cold, Tencent Video and Youku, which are “backed by a big tree to enjoy the coolness”, also have to “reduce costs and increase efficiency”, and strive to expand revenue and narrow losses.
After the cancellation of advance on-demand, the long-term video platform’s money-making model is nothing more than two channels of membership payment and advertising revenue.
To ensure that under these two modes, the money earned by the platform can cover the cost, and even make a positive profit. The fundamental reason is that the video platform can continuously produce explosive products.
Judging from the profit model of domestic video platforms, membership revenue and advertising revenue are actually mutually reinforcing. Popular content can attract more users to watch, thereby achieving membership revenue growth; more viewers mean greater traffic, advertisers Very inclined to vote for this kind of “explosive money”.
“Menghualu” is such a representative. According to audience statistics, there are currently as many as 34 advertisers in “Menghualu”. According to Tech Planet, an advertising agency of “Menghualu” said that it is now “hard to find one” advertising space in “Menghualu”, and some brands have bid 5 million yuan and have to wait for the schedule.
In addition to advertising revenue, the new members of “Menghualu” will not be too low. “Menghualu” has been ranked No. 1 on Tencent’s video hit list, best-seller list, and soaring list; among the popularity of members, “Menghualu” is also No. 1 on the best-selling list.
Figure/Tencent Video Ranking Source/Screenshot of Ranjing Finance
In this way, the income of “Menghualu” has at least “recovered”.
“Generally speaking, no matter the schedule, a blockbuster work on the platform can earn back the cost of most of the other non-blockbusters.” Ji Ying revealed to Ranjing Finance, “Meeting a good opportunity like “Menghualu” , the platform will naturally not let go of the opportunity to ‘take the wool’, and at least a few million yuan will be recorded in the account.”
But in Ji Ying’s view, this approach is undoubtedly short-sighted. “Originally, the word-of-mouth of “Menghualu” has already gone downhill. After the ‘super point’, if the audience feels that the ending is unfinished, the drama and platform will be dissed even more fiercely.”
“Tencent Video still launched a live broadcast despite the ‘scolding’. The reason is that ‘explosive products can be found but not sought.'” Ji Ying said helplessly.
Li Hao, founder of Mars Culture, also agrees with this point of view. There are many factors that can play a decisive role in whether a film and television work can become a hit, from the quality of IP, the level of directors and screenwriters, and the entire cast of actors. , as well as variety shows.
But “live watching” is not without merit. After all, users’ needs are becoming more diverse and personalized. For high-quality content, many people will also “renew” the platform, and even are willing to pay, so the platform There is also a need to provide different services that meet the needs of users.
“And streaming media platforms such as Disney+ and Hulu, which are implementing tiered pricing, and Netflix, which is about to launch a low-priced monthly subscription for advertising, all show that tiered management is the future of video platforms.” Zhang Yi said.
“However, the method of tiered management of members is definitely not determined at one time. Whether it is this live broadcast or other methods, the platform needs to constantly test and find a win-win model for both the platform and the audience.” Zhang Yi told Burning finance.
Of course, high-quality content is the basis for the audience to pay.
This also leads to the fact that users do not have any preference or loyalty to the platform. In Zhang Yi’s opinion, “Users’ choice of platforms such as Aiyou Tengmang still follows the product. For example, Mango TV broadcasts “Riding the Wind and Waves”, and the audience They all went to mango, and the same goes for other works. Fundamentally speaking, product quality and service quality are the most important, and the price factor can also be offset by this.”
Screenwriter and film critic Wang Hailin also believes that if the platform can provide high-quality and high-quality works worth thousands of yuan in subscription fees, then even if the annual membership fee is several thousand yuan, some audiences are willing to pay. “But the problem is that now the audience feels that most of the works on the platform are not worth the membership fee of one or two hundred yuan.”
“Several key S+ works that have been announced in the next summer archives seem to sell well at present.” Ji Ying said. Therefore, Tencent Video will focus on the “sheep” of “Menghualu” shortsightedly to help maximize the platform’s profits. “After all, the next project that makes money like this will depend on ‘luck’.”