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Popular Chinese TV show plays in New York's Times Square

By Chen Jia in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2014-01-20 10:36

To attract more overseas audiences, online video-sharing platform iQIYI and PPStream started to air a promotion video in New York's Times Square of the popular Chinese entertainment show, The Hero of Hanzi.

"We will keep broadcasting it for three days in Times Square, which is expected to introduce this show and the Chinese culture behind it to around 100,000 passersby every day," Wang Liyuan, who works for the marketing program of iQIYI and PPS, told China Daily on Friday.

"It is the grand debut of Chinese characters globally, with a special cultural value."

The hit TV showwill start to air its second season online and on the Henan Satellite Television starting Friday, which Wang called a great example of collaboration with online media.

Among the top three TV shows in China in 2013, The Hero of Hanzi sought to interest people to the gradually disappearing written form of Chinese characters.

During its first season, it invited viewers to take part in dictation challenges to test their knowledge of written Chinese.

The show triggered a trend of interest in "Chinese characters", and Japanese mainstream media Yomiuri did special coverage on the new trend.

The second season will avoid rarely used Chinese characters and focus more on commonly used ones more easily understood by overseas audiences. New changes will also be made to the show's competitive format and rules in 2014.

Friday's promotional video debut in Times Square is also regarded as a marketing warm-up for the coming initial public offering of iQIYI in 2014. Though IQIYI hasn't officially announced it, sources told China Daily that the company's CEO visited New York in December to prepare for the IPO.

Times Square is known as "the crosswalk of the world", with an annual flow of 40 million people and about 500,000 people a day passing through it, according to the marketing research of iQIYI.

"To show a commercial at Times Square is a forecaster of something that is heading towards a global playing field," Wang said.

As the first Chinese television program to enter such a global playing field, the Hero of Hanzi will become one of the best representations of Chinese culture outside of China, she said.

The program gets the attention of Chinese around the world, and allows the entire world to have a taste of the diversity and culture that is particular to the Chinese culture, she said.

"Not only does the value of the program increase overseas, but it also promotes Chinese culture and allows it to attract more mainstream attention," Wang explained.

In 2011, Times Square also saw a culture-themed video from China - a 50-meter display called "China Experience", a looped one-minute promotional video featuring some of the nation's most famous faces.

It opened a day before then-President Hu Jintao's arrival for a state visit to the United States, which was part of a major campaign to promote China's image among Americans.

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