The annual Spring Festival Gala hosted by China Central Television has become an important part of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration since 1983, when it was first televised live at home and abroad.
The four-hour-plus CCTV gala - featuring music, dance, witty skits and comedy - has been an annual fixture for millions of Chinese worldwide on the eve of Chinese New Year since the early 1980s. However, its popularity has declined in recent years as Internet users have scorned the gala as rigid, outdated and lacking a grassroots foundation.
Each year the gala hopes to incorporate new ideas and surprise people. Both directors and performers rack their brains during writing and rehearsals. It has become a big challenge for CCTV and its creative staff.
Comedian Zhao Benshan has become very popular in recent years. Although some say they are bored with his performance, the short sketch has remained the most popular part of the gala for audiences.
In recent years, local TV stations have begun to host their own variety shows to mett the growing wants of audiences. One successful example is Hunan TV's gala, which now ranks second.