Chinese video streaming provider iQiyi Inc has removed its view count feature in favor of a more comprehensive evaluation system to gauge videos' popularity, as it works to improve user experience and combat click farming.
Liu Wenfeng, chief technology officer at iQiyi, said the new system, called heat index, was based on diverse measures of viewer behavior, such as user interaction and shares on social media.
"We have adopted artificial intelligence technologies to calculate the heat index, which will track user feedback, video content quality and the performance in the current market. These multidimensional indicators will improve recommendations for viewers," Liu said.
Liu cited the example of popular children's cartoonPeppa Pigand recent online dramaThe Story of Yanxi Palace. According to Liu,Peppa Piggained more views thanThe Story of Yanxi Palaceon the iQiyi site, as the former was released much earlier than the latter and children will watch the cartoon repeatedly. As such,Peppa Pigreaches a smaller audience than the latter and garners lower viewer interaction.
"The new system provides a more comprehensive measure of content popularity," Liu said. "Peppa Pighas seen its heat index hit a high of 5,922, which is much lower than the 10,754 top reading forThe Story of Yanxi Palace."
Chen Hongjia, vice-president of marketing for iQiyi, said the company found that view counts do not rank among the top 10 factors that consumers consider when choosing which movies and shows to watch.
Nasdaq-listed iQiyi is following in the footsteps of its fellow video streaming and entertainment titan Netflix. The United States-based platform has removed its star rating system for movies and shows, with its new system allowing users to rate shows with simply a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Earlier this year, Netflix also killed off the user reviews feature on its website.
Beijing-based company iQiyi said its decision has allowed it to focus on providing higher-quality and more creative content.
"The desire to maximize viewer numbers has led to both a willingness in some areas of the industry to overlook work of truly high quality in favor of 'clickbait' content," the company said.
Bai Yicong, CEO at film and TV production company Linghe Media, said click farming - where third parties are paid to generate clicks on videos to artificially raise view counts - has become rampant across the nation, fostering unfair competition.
"Content producers will definitely suffer from click farming," Bai said. "Nowadays, we will evaluate content quality according to more comprehensive indicators, such as the number of reposts on Weibo instead of views alone."