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TVs are so cheap that membership fees can’t afford the “matryoshka doll” fees. How to “untie” the set?

TVs are so cheap that membership fees can’t afford the “matryoshka doll” fees. How to “untie” the set?

Picture: Smart TV membership is one step at a time.

When you turn on the TV, there will be a startup advertisement. If you click it accidentally, you will jump to the membership registration and recharge interface. After finally finding the content viewing interface, you find that you can only preview some content for a few minutes without registering as a member; register as a member. Later, I found that there are more subdivided memberships, and to watch different channels, you need to be a member of the corresponding channel… Nowadays, “it is really difficult to watch TV” has become the consensus of many consumers.

A recent investigation by a reporter from “China Consumer News” found that many smart TV brands have their own content platforms and also embed content from various video platforms. However, no matter which platform consumers choose, it is difficult to avoid various memberships. For recharging, the “matryoshka” charges are even more disturbing to consumers. The set of charges one after another has made many consumers lament: There are many charging routines for smart TVs and it is difficult to use them “smartly”.

  The charging operation is complicated and difficult to understand

  It’s hard to be “intelligent” by watching TV

Ms. Zhang, a Shandong consumer, told a reporter from China Consumer News that she installed the TV Home APP on her home TV. She thought all channels could be watched, but after signing up as a member, she found that many programs required additional payment to watch. Ms. Li, a Guangxi consumer, also told reporters that on the day she signed up for a TV home APP membership, she could watch all programs, but many programs were “locked” the next day and required a second payment to watch.

On social platforms, reporters saw many consumers complaining: “At first, the advertisements for membership activation were played in a loop, but after activation, I found that there were various ‘matryoshka’ charges, and many membership programs were still unavailable, so I wanted a refund. But I couldn’t find customer service and there was no refund window.”

Mr. Shen, a consumer in Beijing, subscribed to Mango TV full-screen membership, but could not watch it when logged into the Hisense TV at home, so he asked Mango TV customer service. Customer service said: “Due to manufacturer version restrictions, this manufacturer’s Internet TV does not support logging into Mango TV member accounts, so using Mango TV membership on this manufacturer’s version is not supported.”

Mr. Shen told the China Consumer News reporter that after listening to the customer service explanation, he checked online and found out that the Mango TV downloaded on Hisense TV was a customized version. You can only log in to a Juhaokan customized account and want to watch Mango TV membership programs. You need to purchase it directly on the TV. Mr. Shen said: “Juhaokan is a home Internet AI company affiliated with Hisense Group. So, I recharged my Juhaokan membership, but found that many channels still cannot be watched directly and require separate payment.”

According to the regulations of Mango TV, PC mobile film and television members who have opened Mango TV can use it on the web, mobile phones, and tablets. If you want to watch it on the TV, you need to upgrade to Mango full-screen VIP, and the membership price is correspondingly higher. “I upgraded from a Mango TV membership to a full-screen membership, but I didn’t expect that I still couldn’t use it on the TV.” Mr. Shen said that the process of watching TV is too complicated now. If you buy a membership, you may have to upgrade. After the upgrade, you may still need to upgrade. Due to some agreements between TV manufacturers and video platforms, it cannot be watched.

The reporter learned that there are many charging entities and charging packages for smart TVs. After consumers open paid TV memberships and video platform paid memberships, they may also face more subdivided payment models. For example, they need to purchase sports memberships to watch sports events and purchase cartoons. Purchase a Child Growth Membership. In addition to the complicated charging items, smart TVs are often criticized by consumers for their complicated operation.

“Smart TVs are complex to operate. My grandma doesn’t know how to operate them because she is too old. She is also worried that she will click some buttons by mistake and activate some paid items without knowing it.” Mr. Wu, a consumer in Beijing, told reporters that in order to make it easier for the elderly to watch TV, he opened a TV at home. Got Gehua Cable. Later, the old man went to other places to recuperate and was away from Beijing for a long time, so he planned to suspend the cable TV business. “Only after I called Gehua Cable’s customer service did I know that I had to go to the offline business hall to apply for suspension of business, but if I want to activate it again, I can do it online.” Mr. Wu said that the different “treatments” for activation and cancellation have also increased invisibly. How difficult it is for consumers to cancel business.

  Interested parties are well calculated

  Consumption experience is ignored

Zhang Xiaorong, president of the Deepin Technology Research Institute, told a reporter from China Consumer News that in recent years, smart TV manufacturers and content providers have unilaterally regarded TV sets as advertising terminals and content transmission channels, and formulated various payment packages to obtain more information. This brings great trouble to users. The reporter’s investigation found that the reason behind this may be related to the increasingly transparent configuration of TV hardware and the increasingly limited profit margin of hardware.

Aowei Cloud data shows that in the first quarter of this year, China’s color TV market sales were 7.442 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 15.7%; sales were 22.60 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 18.7%. During June 18, the retail volume of the color wire online market also dropped by 12.9% year-on-year. The reporter searched for “LCD TV” on the e-commerce platform and saw that the lowest price was only more than 200 yuan.

There are many stakeholders behind smart TVs, including content providers, license holders, etc. All parties have their own “calculations.” As the hardware business of TV manufacturers declined, they began to make a fuss about software. The reporter learned that the profit model of “hardware revenue + content payment” first came from LeTV. This model has greatly lowered the retail price of Internet TV. Other domestic TV manufacturers have begun to follow suit, gradually forming a model consisting of “hardware sales + content revenue + advertising”. A profit model consisting of four parts: “revenue + application sharing”.

Although content charging and embedded advertising have become increasingly important profit channels for manufacturers, due to the lack of relevant services, even if the product is low-priced, the user experience is regressing. Zhu Linyan, a consumer in Shanghai, told a reporter from China Consumer News: “My friends were originally planning to buy a TV, but they heard that to watch dramas, you have to unlock multiple memberships, and the operation is complicated. I was worried about being ‘matryoshka’, so I finally chose to buy screen projection. Equipment.” It is not difficult to see from this that the “matryoshka” charge has benefited all parties in the short term, but in fact it is a short-sighted behavior that will only discourage more consumers in the long run.

Liang Zhenpeng, a senior industrial economic observer, told a reporter from China Consumer News that some manufacturers only regard TVs as a hardware sales tool and ignore content and services. This is also one of the reasons for the phenomenon of “matryoshka” charging. Manufacturers can start from user needs and increase exclusive high-quality content on their own platforms, or adopt a more flexible cooperation model with content providers to attract users, continuously improve service quality, and provide simpler and more intuitive operating procedures and optional payment items, so that Users have a better viewing experience.

  New business model, old thinking

  Regulatory action awaits results

In February this year, the “Analysis of Complaints Accepted by National Consumers Association Organizations in 2022” released by the China Consumers Association pointed out that online membership chaos has become a hot spot for complaints, and the “matryoshka-style” charging of smart TV platforms has caused consumer dissatisfaction. In June, the “Consumption Survey Report on Smart TV Related Issues” released by the Jiangsu Provincial Consumer Rights Protection Committee disclosed that “matryoshka-style” charging and membership activation pages mislead consumers and other prominent problems.

Chao Chenglin, director of the Industrial Space Research Institute, a business expert, said in an interview with a reporter from China Consumer News that in recent years, the popularity of smart TVs has made the audience’s demand for TV entertainment content more diversified. TV manufacturers and content providers In order to obtain more revenue, various payment packages will be formulated according to market demand, but too many charging items and unclear charging methods have indeed caused trouble to users. For TV hardware manufacturers and all parties in the content platform industry chain, whether a more concise and clear service model can meet the needs of consumers is a direction that needs further exploration.

Chao Chenglin believes that relevant departments should strengthen supervision, require TV charges to be transparent and compliant, ensure that users understand specific charging items and prices, and standardize the disclosure and display of information. At the same time, all parties in the smart TV market also need to actively negotiate to form a user-friendly cooperation mechanism, provide personalized and clear charging models, and meet user needs, so as to achieve a good user experience and orderly market competition.

Recently, the State Administration of Radio and Television, together with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration for Market Regulation and other relevant units, held a mobilization and deployment meeting to deal with the complicated charging and operation of TV “matryoshka dolls”, requiring pilot work and special rectification to be carried out before the end of this year to solve the problem of “charging charges”. Problems such as “too many packages, many charging entities, and opaque charging” have significantly changed the “matryoshka” charging phenomenon of TV, and greatly improved the user experience of watching TV when they turn on the phone, basically enabling cable TV and IPTV to watch live TV channels as soon as they turn on the phone.

Zhang Xiaorong said that ensuring consumers’ right to choose is inseparable from supervision. Strengthening the supervision of hardware manufacturers and software providers, and standardizing the disclosure and display of charging information can effectively prevent the spread of the “matryoshka” charging phenomenon.

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