The New Frontier in Content Commerce: Platform-Driven TV Gala Shows


The gala television show, featuring a variety of entertainers from pop stars to comedians, has long been a staple of Chinese holiday programming, with CCTV’s Spring Festival extravaganza on the eve of the Lunar New Year the best known (and most widely viewed) example.

In recent years, China’s big e-commerce players have partnered with major satellite networks to produce gala shows that promote major sales events such as Singles’ Day and the 618 Shopping Festival, and now, we are seeing more of these splashy programs being developed to heighten the buzz around competing platforms and boost sales through entertainment content.

  • Baidu hosted its “Curiosity Night” (百度好奇夜) on Zhejiang Satellite TV on September 19 to celebrate the human drive of curiosity (a value that dovetails with the firm’s flagship search engine), with dairy giant Yili as the title sponsor, and even a month later, it is still being discussed.

  • Baidu’s gala was the most-watched program for the evening, beating out Hunan Satellite TV’s hugely popular “Happy Camp” (快乐大本营). With nearly 11 billion user interactions on the Baidu App and more than 17 billion impressions on Weibo, it also reportedly set a new record for branded gala shows. Guests included popular acts such as girl group The9, idol Cai Xukun, and folk star Tengger, along with leading creators from the Baidu mobile community. The show incorporated AI and intelligent search functions to allow viewers to engage more deeply with Baidu during the broadcast.

  • Bytedance’s Douyin produced its third annual “Wonderful Night” (抖音美好奇妙夜) on October 16. This year’s event was broadcast on Zhejiang Satellite TV, Xigua Video, well as Mango TV and with Chinese automaker Hengchi as the title sponsor, while global cosmetics giant L’Oréal Paris and C-beauty player Florasis (Hua Xizi) also featured. Like Baidu’s show, the Douyin show included top celebrities such as Angelababy, Ouyang Nana, and Kris Wu and popular creators and amateurs from the ranks of Douyin users, sometimes paired together, as with Angelababy’s performance alongside a children’s choir group that has nearly 9 million followers on the platform. Douyin’s show was also reportedly the most-viewed program of the night, with more than 52.5 million people tuning in from Douyin’s livestreaming channel.

  • Douyin rival Kuaishou is up next with its planned “One Thousand and One Nights” (一千零一夜) on Jiangsu Satellite TV on October 30. The theme for the show is “Fireworks on Earth,” with Kuaishou aiming to set off fireworks in viewers’ minds through its content, which will highlight a range of experiences from big-name stars (pianist Lang Lang, actor and Kuaishou spokesperson Chen Kun) to more than 100 Kuaishou creators specializing in everything from music to e-commerce.

  • And if the latest 618 Shopping Festival in June was any indication, we are likely to see an even larger number of TV gala shows supporting this year’s November 11 Singles’ Day, as more platforms compete to get in on the e-commerce and entertainment game to drive sales for the world’s biggest shopping event.


The article is written by Ginger Ooi. Read more here at CCI.