Spring Festival Gala 2019: More Idols, Fewer Foreigners, and No Pigs

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The world’s “most-watched” TV program was a dull slog in 2019, as its struggle for relevancy in modern China becomes increasingly difficult.

It must have been a big day for the global advertisement market on February 4, 2019 (GMT+8), when the two most valuable prime time televised events happened to fall on the same day. In the early morning (China time), across the few Western restaurants that stayed open in Beijing, NFL lovers braved the cold to watch the Super Bowl along with American football lovers all over the world. And at night, hundreds of millions of Chinese gathered in front of their screens to watch the annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala as part of a Lunar New Year tradition that has stretched over the past three decades.

Martial artists from Shaolin spell out a giant “福”

Compared to last year’s program, the world’s most-watched annual television event was both less fun and less controversial in 2019. Not unlike the slow-moving Super Bowl LIII (which was dubbed the “American Spring Festival Gala” here for its halftime show), this year’s CCTV Gala came off as rather lame to its audience, a few highlights notwithstanding. (A truck-made stage at the venue in the northeastern city of Changchun, famous for its auto industry, and a Shaolin Kung Fu performance featuring 20,000 synchronized dancers maneuvering on stage like a real-life LED screen added some excitement to the otherwise dull, five-hour celebration.)

Here are a few trends we were able to pull out of CCTV’s 2019 Spring Festival Gala:

Dilraba and LAY

1. More Idols and Reality Show Stars

It’s hard to dig out the precise number, but rumor has it that the Gala’s viewership is decreasing year by year. And while it’s technically the “most-watched” TV show in the world, in reality it’s on in lots of households where few people are really glued to the screen. Perhaps in an attempt to remedy this, a lot more traffic-attracting idols and pop stars were invited on stage this year, including TF Boys, LAY, Angelababy, Dilraba, Li Yifeng, Zhu Yilong, Typhoon Teens, and Wu Lei from the famously flopped film Asura. All wearing red, singing about dreams, happiness and youth — there could not have been more positive energy poured out by the young celebrities. Find the full list of Spring Festival Gala trends from 2019 on RADII.

 

– This article originally appeared on radiichina.com.

About the author RADII (rā’dē-ī’) is an independent media platform uncovering a side of China that’s rarely explored. We are dedicated to understanding and sharing vibrant stories at the core of the world’s most populous nation. The China of copycats, corruption, and smog still exists, but it’s changing – fast. A new generation is ready to transform the country. From unwavering environmentalists and ethnic dialect rappers, to visionary entrepreneurs and sage healers, there are people across the country from all walks of life, all poised to make waves. In changing, challenging times, we need mutual understanding between China and the outside world now more than ever. RADII views China honestly, critically, and humanely, from the inside out. Our hope is that the truth becomes obvious: our commonalities are greater than our differences.

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