It is still difficult for VIP members to break through 100 million yuan. How can the video platform "open source and reduce expenditure"?

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文|锋芒智库, author 丨指月

2015 is a node in the explosion of video platform membership. In June of that year, iqiyi announced that the number of VIP members reached 5.017 million. Six months later, on December 1, 2015, iqiyi announced that the number of VIP members doubled to more than 10 million.

In the first quarter of 2019, recharging one or more video VIP members has gradually become a "standard" for netizens. iQiyi's membership is close to 100 million, 10 times that of 2015. iQiyi Q1 financial report shows that as of March 31, 2019, iQiyi's subscription membership reached 96.8 million, of which 98.6% are paid members. .

Tencent disclosed Tencent's video data in the financial report to 89 million. The difference is that Q4 is zero compared with last year's Q4. Youku has not disclosed the number of paid members for a long time, but you can see one or two from the big entertainment section of Alibaba's financial report. Ali's The digital media and entertainment segment generated revenue of 5.671 billion yuan in the fourth quarter, up 8% year-on-year. The revenue growth of digital media and entertainment business was mainly due to “increased subscription revenue from Youku and increased revenue from mobile value-added services provided by UC”.

Domestic video platforms have always been able to bypass a problem: too much money. None of the three major video platforms in the first echelon are profitable. And not only Youaiteng, mainly in terms of game revenue, gradually transforming to increase its membership, bilibili, who is in proportion to advertising revenue, is also facing the same situation:

Membership continues to soar, profits are far from expected. B station Q1 active users reached 101.3 million for the first time, the average monthly payment users were 5.7 million, an increase of 132% over the same period last year; At the same time, bilibili Q1 net loss of 195.6 million yuan, compared with the same period last year, the net loss of 238 percent.

The stagnation of Tencent's video is undoubtedly an alarm. When the highways of paying members are gradually slowing down, and the number is close to the ceiling level, are video platforms far from profitable? How do they improve their cost-revenue structure?

Where is the paying member ceiling?

Although Tencent Video Q1 submitted a "zero growth" data, it does not mean that the number of paying users ceiling is already "immediately urgent." Although the same 89 million data is exactly the same as last year's Q4, the financial report mentioned that "if some of the episodes are delayed, it may contribute more to the increase in the number of subscription accounts." Tencent Video launched a membership before and after "520". A 50% discount on the event will increase the number of paid members of Q2.

The high probability of 2019 will still be the climax of the number of members of each video platform continues to rise, but for the billion-dollar video platform, the development of the domestic subscription member market will soon face a bottleneck - considering the family-based subscription Users, the people covered by more than 100 million paying users are actually quite wide.

Using Netflix as a reference, the 2019 Q1 financial report disclosed that the total number of paid users in the United States was 60.23 million, and the number of new paid users in the United States was 1.74 million, which was less than the 2.28 million in the same period of last year. The total number of international paying users was 88.63 million. The increase was 7.86 million, up from 5.98 million in the same period last year.

Netflix is the only one in the streaming media market in the United States. Despite the rapid growth of Hulu, as of May, the total number of paying users reported by Hulu was 26.8 million, less than half of Netflix, so it is clear that the weak growth of Netflix's domestic membership has hit the ceiling.

With a population of 330 million in the United States, considering the large number of family subscribers and children's population, 60 million local users have difficulty making further breakthroughs. The United States is already a very mature market, and will face the new role of Disney and other new players, so its subsequent growth will mainly rely on overseas, which is why Netflix has been sourcing overseas content for the Asian market in recent years.

The number of paid members of Tencent Video and iQiyi, the domestic head video platform, is about to break through 100 million, far exceeding the number of Netflix US subscriptions. Even if you don't consider the differences in Internet payment habits between China and the United States, this figure is quite impressive. .

Contrary to Netflix's revenue route, China starts with advertising revenue and gradually expands the revenue of paid members. Judging from the difficulties faced by Netflix recently, many analysts believe that the domestic advertising membership model is more flexible, Netflix has also begun to try water advertising recommendations, there is a trend of getting closer to each other.

But one big difference is that Netflix's paid unit price is much higher than U-Teng, and Netflix's subscription model has long established a multi-position pricing model, which greatly increases the income of paid members. Help; while there are many members in China, but there is no soil to increase the unit price of the payment. The video platform still relies on the large-scale half-price discount and joint membership to promote its own paid members. The difference in payment on the platform is mainly reflected in the movie. On a single-chip payment, it often arouses the user's dislike.

For example, recently, "wandering Earth" paid for a single piece after it was launched on a video website, and there was a lot of opposition-it was clear that many cinema films had adopted a payment model when they first went online, but fermented in topics such as "wandering Earth," which is popular among the people. It can be seen that for the widest audience, single-chip payment is not a conventional way of consumption.

That is to say, although the growth of domestic video members is rapid and the scale is large, ARPU (the average income from each user) is not high, and it is difficult to improve in the short term. From the revenue side alone, this is a big reason why the video platform is difficult to make a profit - the paid membership is not enough to bring the cost of coverage. Domestic video platforms are not as balanced as Netflix by paying subscribers to maintain revenue.

Taking Aiqiyi as an example, the number of paid members has already ranked first in the domestic growth rate, and member income has continuously surpassed advertising revenue to become the first source of its revenue source – Q1 iQiyi member service business revenue of 3.4 billion yuan. The year-on-year growth of 64% has been much higher than the advertising revenue of 2.1 billion yuan; its content cost has dropped by 18% from the previous quarter, still reaching RMB 5.3 billion, and the revenue cost is 7.3 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 50%.

Online drama split account, the decline in film pay helps to control the cost of content

In order to achieve a balance of payments, nothing more than "open source and reduce expenditures" - to find more revenue points, while trying to reduce cost pressures. Among them, the second echelon video platform such as Mango TV, B station, Sohu video, etc. are faced with different situations.

Mango TV is the only mainstream video platform for profit. In the article "how to get out of the" scale Theory "of Mango Super Media, the sharp think tank has made an in-depth analysis of this. To sum up, the advantages of mango TV lie in Hunan radio and television, strong variety production strength, clear platform brand tone, clear user image and so on, but at the same time, It also means that mango TV is no longer likely to be comparable to the first echelon platform in terms of user size, and seeking truth from facts and taking its own differentiation route should be the way for mango TV to develop.

At this rate of growth, the net loss has expanded by 238%, and bilibili's diversified revenue still needs a qualitative change-from the current revenue structure, advertising revenue tends to stabilize, and paid value-added revenue and ecommerce business grow very fast. But the absolute number is still very small, the proportion of income is still lagging behind. If bilibili needs to pay and ecommerce continues to grow at the current rate, does it require greater cost input? From this point of view, the doubts about bilibili's realization ability may last for a long time.

Content cost is an important factor in profitability for all video platforms. When the 2018 annual report was disclosed, iQiyi CEO Gong Yu said on the conference call that the decline in pay will help the content cost to fall: "The cost of purchasing copyright has dropped from the highest of more than 15 million episodes of TV dramas to less than 8 million. The cost is mainly reduced in terms of actor pay. One is that the top limit of the top actor is a drama of 50 million yuan, but previously it has exceeded 150 million yuan, so the cost from the outsourcing drama to the homemade drama is declining."

Gong Yu also said that there was a delay in the feedback from the decline in film pay to the cost: "the broadcast of purchasing TV dramas is usually delayed by 6 to 12 months, and homemade content takes longer, usually 12 to 18 months to broadcast." So the impact on the results is lagging behind. "

In 2019, iqiyi's content cost dropped 18 percent from a month earlier. Gong Yu said on a teleconference: "one of the important factors in the first quarter of content cost decline is that there are some delays in the launch of content, and the reasons for the delay in going online are due to a variety of reasons," Gong Yu said on a teleconference. There are reasons for policy changes, as well as production reasons, resulting in delays in some of the content. " Procurement, homemade content cost decline feedback to performance still takes time.

The decline in the cost of the film is a major environmental impact and will affect all video platforms. In addition, the popularity of the network and online drama sharing model is likely to have a positive effect on cost control. The project side revenue is determined by the actual playback effect, and the risk is shared by both parties. It is obviously superior to direct procurement for the platform side. And this is a logically fluent and content-optimized model – content creators who are actually loved by viewers will have more to gain.

Is it feasible to tap existing traffic and tiered payments?

Said "throttle", then "open source." If the number of paying users slows after breaking through 100 million, where will the next revenue growth point of the video platform come from?

The traditional main source of revenue is the contradiction between advertising revenue and member payment business, because non-film advertising is one of the selling points of members. However, this does not affect the video platform to launch more open-screen advertising, information flow advertising and even embedded advertising. With the growth of user size, advertising revenue is expected to grow steadily, which is also the situation shown by iqiyi, bilibili and other financial reports. The increase in advertising revenue is relatively mediocre.

Tencent video advertising

Is it feasible to raise prices or to offer multiple grades for subscriptions to foreign streaming media such as Netflix? This is the most direct way to increase the ARPU when the total number of users is close to the ceiling. However, from the actual situation, the domestic video platform is still selling at half price, and the price increase in the short term is obviously unrealistic. In addition, domestic video VIP members may not have the conditions for multiple payment. Netflix's $8.99, $12.99, and $15.99 are as follows:

Netflix's grade gap is mainly in terms of clarity and the number of screens that can be viewed simultaneously. The VIPs of all domestic video platforms have already enjoyed the highest definition. As for the simultaneous viewing requirements, they are also released in the current VIP members. For example, in the case of iQiyi, VIP can set up 4 “family members” accounts. Play on both devices at the same time:

Deleting the rights and interests of existing members is obviously very risky and easy to lead to a strong word of mouth. Therefore, if you want to do multi-file payment, domestic video platform may need to find the "increment" of the service. For example, the new clarity model, film pay package dry, brand content matrix under other rights such as joint members, game gift bags and so on. This requires attractive enough to allow users to accept higher-grade video services that pay more.

At present, the advanced payment of video platforms is only the difference between TV services, and this difference is easily replaced by the "screening" function.

The difference of iqiyi's upgrade members

The pattern of video platforms at home and abroad is complicated, content-led, everyone wants to use a lower cost to win more users, but the reason is easy to say, it is difficult to do.

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