Reconfiguring Audience Measurement in Platform Ecologies of Video Streaming: iQiyi’s Pivot Toward Data-Driven Fandom and Algorithmic Metrics
This article examines shifting approaches to audience measurement in the context of platformization of cultural production and the turn to data-driven fandom in the evolving screen ecology in China. Focusing on the video streaming service iQiyi, the article considers its pivot away from view counts to an algorithmic measurement regime. It critiques the platform’s legitimacy-building strategy, in which the problematization of data manipulation is not only flawed, but also evasive and hypocritical. It reveals how the shift in audience measurement is closely connected to iQiyi’s approach to platformization. Specifically, the article delineates how operationalization with data through a satellite platform serves the new regime by mobilizing and commodifying data-driven fandom, thereby consolidating platform power in the broader screen ecology. It analyzes how the economic and cultural logic of the approach is underpinned by (1) the metric of celebrity impact; (2) the metric of fan value; (3) perishable data and accelerated temporality by design; and (4) metrics-informed decision-making. The article concludes by outlining the implications for research on the co-evolution of audience measurement and platformization.