Secrets about studio audience at CCTV New Year Gala
CCTV New Year’s Gala is broadcast live on the eve of each Chinese New Year on its multiple channels to the entire nation’s TV viewers. Though TV ratings and popularity is declining each year, it is still one of the most watched TV program among Chinese speaking world, including Chinese diaspora around the world.
Its audience in the studio is carefully vetted and thoughtfully handpicked. Prominent Chinese overseas like Yue-Sai Kan and winners of various honorary titles and awards, including National Model Workers and the Military Medals are invited. Corporate heads like Robin Li(李彦宏), CEO of Baidu, the largest Chinese language search engine and Zhu Xinli (朱新礼), founder of Huiyuan Juice, are also on the list, but they usually have to pay a big fat check in order to have their company names constantly mentioned by emcees and product placement. In 2009, Baidu plunked down 40 million yuan (5.7 million) as the Gala’s sponsor, and in return, its logo spread across the TV screen every time the emcees read “Letters from Overseas,” and Robin Li appear eight times on the screen. In another magic show at 2010 Gala presented by Taiwanese illusionist Lu Chen that involved the use of orange juice, Lu Chen said in front of the camera that “This is Huiyuan orange juice. Yummy.” Similar examples are just too numerous to enumerate that many viewers said they are put off by the in-your-face advertisements.
In addition to notable people, the assemblage also consists of “ordinary citizens,” probably the most mysterious group of attendees. Often they seem obscure but are often well-connected by their families or friends, considering how “lucky” they’ve got chosen to appear in such a nationally watched TV program when the camera pans the crowd every now and then. They also play an important role: heating up the atmosphere with staged and rehearsed outbursts of laughter, applause and cheer, and participating in shows, such as magic shows and skits. In Chinese, they are called Tuo’er, which means secret collaborator who appears a random and irrelevant outsider. Because of their staged reaction and response to the shows and uncredited role, Chinese netizens also gave them a nickname “longtao,” or Utility Man.
Sharp-eyed Chinese netizens have dug out quite a few utility men and women, and they were really amused. For those hilarious pictures, please read our post: Spotted: the most loyal “Utility Man” at CCTV New Year’s Gala.