For good luck, broadcast giant opened offers for slots at 8:08 am
China Central Television (CCTV) holds its 17th annual prime-time advertising auction on Nov 8, 2010 in Beijing. No 728 Nice Group, a leading personal hygiene products manufacturer, pays 150 million yuan to sponsor several prime-time CCTV series in the second half of 2011. [Photo / CFP]
BEIJING - It is the time of year again when Chinese and multinational entrepreneurs flock to China Central Television (CCTV), pledging billions of yuan to advertise on this powerful platform.
The broadcast giant launched its 17th annual prime-time advertising auction at 8:08 am on Monday, - the number eight stands for fortune in Chinese culture.
The 12-hour auction raised bids totaling 12.67 billion yuan ($1.86 billion), a 15.52 percent increase on last year, said He Haiming, vice-director of CCTV's advertising operation and management center.
"The amount of money sets a new record in 17 years," he said. "The top bidders were from the food and beverage sectors, home appliances as well as finance and security. There was also an increased presence by the auto and tourism industries."
The Yurun Food Group won the first bid, paying 50.1 million yuan for 60 days of advertising rights on the time slot following Xinwen Lianbo, the most popular news program in the country.
The annual bidding for prime advertising slots in 2011 at the State-owned TV station, whose programs reach almost every corner of China, is considered a weather vane for the country's economy and an indicator of the prosperity of China's consumer sector.
"We have promoted the growth of many enterprises over the years," He said. CCTV has 15 nationwide channels and claims a one-third share of the audience market in the first half of this year.
According to CSM Media Research, the broadcaster had an audience of 1.23 billion in 2009. Among the 10 most watched TV channels in the first half of 2010, seven of them belong to CCTV.
Some business tycoons view the network not only as a valuable platform for promoting a brand, but also one for rebuilding a reputation that has been tarnished.
At the auction, dairy magnate Mengniu paid 231 million yuan to sponsor several prime-time CCTV series in the first half of 2011, aiming to rehabilitate itself following the melamine scandal in 2008 and the recent market skirmish with its rival Yili.
The CCTV's advertising auction sales have steadily increased, from 3.32 billion yuan in 2003 to 10.97 billion yuan last year for 2010 slots.
"You have to appear on CCTV if you want to nationally build a name," said Yang Dongyun, deputy general manager of the Sichuan-based Jiannanchun Group, which manufactures alcohol.
"We spent 90 percent of our TV ad budget on CCTV and will add more next year."