2021-10-05 08:17:42

China’s major video platforms on Monday said they will discontinue the preferential streaming of television and web series that allows premium members to watch them in advance after such practice was criticized for violating consumer rights.

Tencent Video, iQiyi, and Youku are among the sites to discontinue the feature available to their so-called VIP members. Several video platforms often offer advance screenings of hit series before their wide release to premium subscribers, albeit for an extra fee. 

Last month, the state-funded China Consumers Association criticized advance screenings for “playing tricks on consumers” and “lacking sincerity.” The association had then called on the platforms to suspend the feature.

iQiyi and Tencent started the advance screening feature just before the release of popular historical drama “Joy of Life” in December 2019. Existing subscribers were allowed to watch 6 episodes from the series in advance for an additional 50 yuan ($8).

The continuation of such practice has angered many consumers, who said charging additional fees to existing subscribers was “unfair.” Last year, the Beijing Internet Court ordered iQiyi to compensate 1,500 yuan to a member who sued the platform over the feature, though the verdict fell short of calling the practice illegal.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People Visual)