Is CCTV Really NCTV?

The numbers have been out for awhile regarding viewership of the annual Spring Festival Gala on CCTV and as usual, they are very high, nearly 70% of Chinese tv viewers tuned in this year to see an overly painted Zhang Ziyi lip synch, Zhao Benshan do his thing, Jiang Wen pander, and Li Yong's crazy outfits. Going inside the stats reveals some interesting details, the majority of viewers were in northern China. The top 5 provinces with the most viewers were (in order of ranking): Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Beijing, and Hebei. You have to go down to 15th before you find a "southern" province, in this case Anhui. The bottom 5? Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. Disappointingly for CCTV, less than 5% of Guangdong viewers tuned in this year.

The numbers, all from AC Nielsen claim 68.16% tuned in at least at one point during the 5 hour broadcast, a percentage that would have any American tv exec drooling. When you have that many people tuning in, its easy to say that the show is overwhelmingly popular, but at the same time, the stats show a different story. So why is the show so popular in northern China and not watched in the south? Is it an issue of dialect? Is it just habit? In the north, Spring Festival is ALWAYS about preparing dumplings while watching CCTV and complaining about how horrible this year's show is while reminiscing about previous years. Do those in the south fail to tune in because they don't feel connected or is it just their New Year's habits are different?

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