Youku spends the winter, prohibiting “white whoring”

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Source/New Entropy (ID: baoliaohui)

German sociologist Simmel said that money has installed a wheel that cannot be stopped in modern life, making the machine of life a perpetual motion machine, resulting in the turmoil and fanaticism that are common in modern life.

Today, Youku is also falling into this restlessness. The thing started with membership login permissions. Some users found that starting from late December 2022, Youku member accounts can only log in to one mobile phone, while previously a Youku member account could log in to three mobile devices at the same time.

Unsurprisingly, public opinion swept in. After a long period of silence, Youku finally made a positive response through its official Weibo: “In order to protect the security of user accounts, crack down on black and gray products, and take into account the usage habits of the vast majority of users.”

Before this sentence, Youku also used a series of adjectives to emphasize the independence of members, “Youku VIP membership agreement has already clearly stipulated that membership service is a personal, non-transferable, non-commercial use, revocable , a time-limited and non-exclusive license. Users can only use it for non-commercial purposes, and can only use it for personal viewing, and cannot provide it to others in the form of transfer, lease, loan, sharing, sale, etc.”

But obviously, in the view of the opposing debater, Youku’s move is really not decent. For more ordinary users, chasing dramas is very cool, but the film and television resources are extremely scattered. If you want to enjoy watching to your heart’s content, it means that you basically have to buy members of several leading platforms in the market. The thickness of the wallet is really difficult to support this entertainment for a long time. Sharing accounts with family and friends is an excellent way to keep this comfort.

Under the microblog that responded, the top hot list was, “What kind of black industry chain do I use for my parents?”. Someone immediately ridiculed: “You are called a family gang organization.” At the end of the sentence, the netizen attached the emoji of a dog’s head with its tongue sticking out-in Internet language, this emoji means “the dog’s head saves life” and “I am ironic”.

Both sides are righteous and strict, hoping to win in their own standards.

Restricted login, what is Youku panicking about?

What was Youku’s last blockbuster drama?

For this question, perhaps many people’s impressions can be traced back to “Shan He Ling” and “Si Teng”-even though these two dramas have been on the air for nearly two years.

The story about Youku seems to have stayed two years ago. Although Youku has continued to bet on new dramas during the past two years, some dramas did not make waves in the market as expected. They were broadcast quietly and then ended quietly.

Even though Youku has repeatedly emphasized that the potential energy and customer acquisition value generated by phenomenal works are no longer its core competitiveness, Youku pays more attention to sustainable development capabilities. But it is still undeniable that the long-term video site’s chronic loss of money cannot be cured in the short term. Only by pressing the hits can it have more voice in the market.

And Youkubi needs a hit at any time to prove its value. Alibaba released its financial report for the Q3 quarter of fiscal year 2022, which shows that although Youku has narrowed its losses year-on-year, the fact that it has suffered losses for six consecutive quarters cannot be ignored.

Explosive models are Youku’s unique investment certificate.

But looking back and summarizing Youku’s 2022, “missing” is an unsurprising key word.

Also produced by Noon Sunshine, “The Beginning” made a good start for Tencent Video, and Youku’s “Meeting Season” set a record for Noon’s lowest score on Douban in the past; “Agarwood Like Chips” is not worthy of the name of the show king; also starring Zhao Liying, “Wind Blowing Pinellia” set off a retro style in the 90s at the end of the year, and “Happy to Ten Thousands” was a loser in the field of public opinion.

The market always has its own will, and those who succeed also have privileges. It is becoming more and more difficult for Youku to get a glimpse of the explosive style.

In this interlocking market chain, according to the superficial logic of “people follow the show”, the lack of blockbusters means not only the ugly data in the annual financial report, but also closely related to it. The mainstay of video website revenue – the profit of membership business has declined.

Although touching the 100-million-level ceiling is an outdated topic, it is still difficult for video sites to cross the threshold. After the second quarter, the number of members of iQiyi dropped to 98.3 million. After the explosion, membership loss has become a common phenomenon.

Just like “a closet full of clothes is always missing one piece of clothing”, when video sites are increasingly emphasizing the exclusivity of their content, “holding a handful of members but still missing one” has become common. In the face of rising membership prices, the loyalty to a single content item that video sites were eager to achieve will be transferred to the platform loyalty, which has become a product of history. More and more users choose to become a monthly payment for a single drama series. VIP.

This makes content even more relevant to members. Youku wants to continue to maintain the continuous growth of the average daily paying user scale in the financial report. In addition to continuous investment in content, cracking down on member sharing may be the most effective measure.

This is as simple and rude as iQiyi once relied on the largest layoffs in history to make profits. However, the difference is that iQiyi’s layoffs were considered to be a short-term cutting of flesh to survive and drinking poison to quench thirst, while today’s Youku is more like a just move to adapt to the changes of the times and crack down on the black and gray industry.

Account sharing, who hurts who earns?

In the early days of video platform development, attracting users and increasing members were put at the top of every strategy. Everyone showed the most friendly side, trying to revitalize traffic and retain users in front of the important threshold of 100 million members.

For the video website at that time, its significance was not only that after long accumulation, waiting, determination and hesitation, the video platform, a business model questioned in the history of the Internet in China, once again ushered in the opportunity to prove itself, but also It means that in the future, with the growth of membership income, the platform may be able to get rid of its dependence on advertising and enter the era of advertising + membership two-wheel drive.

It was not an era of “holding content to impress audiences”, and video websites were also more friendly than ever. All kinds of preferential measures and member sharing are launched based on this.

Running all the way to users has indeed made the video site full of harvest. Members have a strong willingness to pay, and the upstream and downstream of the industry chain led by the platform confidently and resolutely push up the ceiling of the number of members.

Even on the other side of the story, when users tend to share accounts instead of individual subscriptions, platforms that have been squeezed will obviously lose some revenue. Research firm Cord Cutting compared the survey results with the overall data and estimated that in the United States, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and other major streaming media platforms will lose more than $4 billion in 2021 due to account password sharing. In Q1 of 2022, Netflix will add weight to this fact again: in addition to the platform’s over 200 million paying members, there are about 100 million unpaid users worldwide.

The same story is also staged in domestic video sites. But these problems can be glossed over when you push forward with all your heart. As Netflix said in its shareholder letter for the first quarter of 2022: The company has deliberately indulged the sharing of accounts outside the home because it can make users addicted to the service. After experiencing a vigorous drainage campaign, domestic video websites ushered in a more violent backlash. After the ten-year history of burning money on video sites, they finally chose to start with a knife and stop trading investment for scale and loss for growth.

When the direction of capital and market turns, the question of “who is the real user” begins to be exposed. The increase in the “consumption amount of a single paying user” has become a bargaining chip on the table. This is an extremely simple arithmetic problem. Member revenue is equal to the product of the number of members and the number of payments made by a single member. When one multiplier peaks, the video site will inevitably want to increase another multiplier, membership price increases, login restrictions, and start to appear on the stage.

But behind the simple multiplication problem is also simple market logic. Behind the price increase and restricted login may lead to a reduction in the basic payment base, and users’ willingness to pay will inevitably decrease accordingly. When the position of supply and demand is reversed, a new chain of interests will also emerge. The benefits shared by members have begun to be linked to profit-making. Then, everything becomes different.

In Xianyu, enter “XX platform membership monthly card/seasonal card/annual card”, and more beautiful prices than imagined begin to appear. Taking iQiyi members as an example, the weekly card of 4.99, the monthly card of 10.99, the quarterly card of 29 months, and the annual card of 75 yuan are the most common “reasonable prices”. After iQiyi raised its price at the end of last year, the fee for the season card has been raised to 68 yuan, and the annual card fee is 258 yuan.

In the face of real cheapness and extremely low infringement costs, countless users have thrown themselves into the arms of second-hand platforms. Under Xianyu, an ordinary membership sales account, 35,000 people have viewed this post, and 12,000 people clicked “want”.

Video websites want to solve this problem left over from history, but they are just like piracy that emerges endlessly. Despite the concerted efforts of all parties to encircle and suppress, the black and gray industry of sharing members is still springing up like mushrooms after rain. Xianyu is just the tip of the iceberg in the low-price membership store, and similar stories are happening frequently in corners that are not widely known.

In 2019, Youku filed a lawsuit because it believed that the “Manmankan” app used the model of sharing members, but in October 2022, iQiyi was still in a lawsuit with Blade Company, which provided member account leasing services on the operating platform. .

Too many people are reluctant to give up the “beautiful” business of sharing members.

After “Member Wars”

The era of barbaric growth of the Internet has long ended. Youku is not the first video site to take action on member login permissions, and it will never be the last. However, after choosing to stop the phenomenon of membership contribution from the source, will the story really have a happy ending?

Fully purifying the chaos is of course the best ending, but account resale “doesn’t happen overnight”. The protagonist on the other side of the story also felt aggrieved.

In December last year when iQiyi’s price hike was hotly searched on Weibo, and Youku responded to Weibo’s restrictions on member logins, strong rejection was the most mainstream voice. People keep reminiscing about the happy times when they used to have low-priced memberships, miss the moments when they shared memberships with friends and family, and hate the “big shop bullies” of video sites.

Clearly, this is not just a stress response in a crisis.

The “thick accumulation” of video sites in terms of membership has not been converted into “thin hair” in content innovation, and the side effect of “no continuous output of high-quality content” is gradually appearing. In the film and television market, there are fewer and fewer “standard products” that meet the standards and can reap benefits repeatedly. In the past year, what people often said was unexpected.

“The Beginning” retells the ordinary life in a bus caught in a time loop; “The World” tells the story of a flat boat in a complicated era under the wheel of history; It is an S+ ancient puppet story with real morality and ability; “Canglan Jue” is an unexpected surprise, “This seat” awakens the “two souls” of every audience…Obviously, in the real high-quality content In front of you, there are many users who are willing to pay for it.

This is exactly the original intention of the video site to restrict login.

As a result, the problem has returned to the essence: users want value for money, and the platform hopes to continue to make profits. In other words, the supply of high-quality content is the fundamental problem, rather than viewing restricting logins as a tiger.

But the market is so unreasonable sometimes, no one can tell when the blockbuster will appear, and which drama users will pay for. In the case of unbalanced content supply and demand, one size fits all is by no means the most effective means to solve the problem. It may only bring the platform and users involved in the cracks of a vicious circle of restricted login, illegal profits of second-hand platforms, and users losing membership rights , to scroll forward.

After the number of paid memberships of Netflix declined for the first time in the first quarter, in addition to its low-cost model of “membership + advertising” that has received the most attention, Netflix also subsequently announced that it will conduct shared accounts other than members’ family members. TOLL.

Whether Ayouteng can tell the story of Netflix’s “Big Brother” is still unknown, but there is no doubt that talking about the results without talking about the status quo will never bring the story to an end, and every innovation in the market is not a step in place.

It is bound to be accompanied by labor pains, rejection and long adaptation.

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