Chinese New Year Gala


The Most Watched TV Program in the World

Chinese New Year Gala, aka CCTV New Year’s Gala and abbreviated as 'Chunwan' in Chinese, is a live TV program broadcasted on CCTV to celebrate the turn of the Lunar New Year. Since the first edition was broadcasted in 1983, the program has developed to more diverse performances. With billions of viewers, it is the most watched TV program for entertainment in China. In 2022, the audience figures reached 1.29 billion viewers. It is already a ritual for Chinese families to watch the TV gala after their reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve. Families usually enjoy watching the arts and performances from the show.

A 4.5 Hours Long Variety Show

Starting at 20:00 and airing until around 00:30, the gala is usually directed and hosted by four to six presenters from CCTV channels, such as Zhu Jun, Dong Qing, Sa Beining and Li Sisi. Generally, the TV show is composed of eight main categories, including musical songs, dancing, cross-talk, sketches, martial arts, acrobatics, magic games, traditional opera and drama.

The viewership on songs themed with the country’s unity, soldiers’ army life and traditional operas are in apparent decline. Some have been replaced gradually with trendy subjects like magic shows and pop music, but some are still retained. However, cross-talk, sketches and pop music are the most-liked, which usually keep pace with up-to-date social trends.

All the performances in the TV program are well selected from all walks of life, which reflect the best part of Chinese arts and culture. As the most watched television event, it is the most powerful medium to promote inherited culture and tradition. Many unknown actors are turned into household topics overnight, such as magician Liu Qian, actors Zhao Benshan, Song Dandan, Guo Degang, Feng Gong and Cai Ming.

CCTV New Year’s Gala
CCTV New Year's Gala
Comedic Performance on CCTV New Year Gala
Comedic Performance

Overwhelmingly Popularity in North China

According to previous statistics, the viewership of the Spring Festival TV Gala was really low in the southern cities of China, particularly in Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. However, the program enjoys overwhelming popularity in northern areas like Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. In fact, the gala is more likely to cater to northern people's living habits, cultural background and dialect. For example, the programs usually mention festival food dumplings from northern China, but it seldom touches upon southern people’s food, Niangao. Both the cross-talk and sketches are usually mixed with northern accents and dialects, which is strange to audiences from the south. Therefore, the viewership in southern China has tended to decline gradually.
 Read more about Differences on New Year Celebrations between North and South China

Criticism to the Show

Generally speaking, the programs format and themes stay consistent in recent years, but criticism emerge constantly. Lacking novelty, the program in the past attached much importance to Chinese politics, economy and ethnic affairs.Many performances were not appreciated by the audience, but they were still retained.

New subjects were put into the performances. The most dauntless subject area in the Chinese New Year Gala must be revealing social problems and combating corruption issues. For example, in 2015 TV gala, the ethos of anti corruption was raised, which reflected the defective social situation.

Dance on Chinese New Year Party
Magnificent Group Dancing
Traditional Opera Performance
Traditional Opera Performance

More Interactions with Audiences

The interaction with audiences is stressed more and more. During the live gala, people can receive online red envelopes by shaking their phones when watching the program. There are also channels for audiences to express their own ideas and comments towards the gala, such as voting on “My Favorite New Year's Gala Act”. People can also submit their own videos of Chinese New Year celebrations to the live program.

- Last updated on Nov. 18, 2022 by Catherine He -
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