Douyin becomes exclusive virtual red packet partner of CCTV Spring Festival Gala
Douyin becomes exclusive virtual red packet partner to pour 1.2b yuan
Published: Jan 27, 2021 06:38 PM

Cuddling with several friends on home's sofa, watching the annual Spring Festival Gala on CCTV (China's major broadcaster) while furiously trying to snatch a share of the massive digital red packet giveaway run by Chinese internet giants is a common scenario that Wang, a 30-aged white collar worker based in Beijing can imagine as the way she will be spending the eve of Lunar New Year, China's major holiday. 

Different from previous years, Wang has chosen to stay in the capital city for the holiday this year amid the latest wave of COVID-19 cases in China.

Despite restrictions limiting family reunion during the holiday season, another typical feature of the holiday - giving and receiving red packet or hongbao in Chinese - has become something that cannot be missed during the Lunar New Year.

"I have participated several red packet 'rain showers' while watching the CCTV Gala, during which, Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent will pour large quantity of red packets via their apps," Wang said.

She enjoyed the process of waiting by the phone ready to snatch at a red packet. "Each red packet is around 2-3 yuan ($0.3-0.5) each time, but the value doesn't mean much since getting one red packet will bring you happiness and good luck."

Douyin, the newcomer

Jumping on the bandwagon of red packet promotion, Douyin, a Chinese popular video-sharing platform owned by start-up ByteDance, announced Tuesday that it became the exclusive virtual red packet partner of CCTV for this year's Spring Festival. It will pour 1.2 billion yuan into red packets, a record high, on the New Year's Eve, which falls on February 11 this year.

Prior to the official announcement, Douyin has reportedly replaced e-commerce firm Pinduoduo as the exclusive partner.

Since 2015, Alibaba's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat, now the two dominant third-party payment platforms in China, have taken the limelight of the CCTV Gala and obtained surging user penetration via the show, until last year when Kuaishou, a main rival of Douyin, poured 1 billion yuan of cash into the CCTV Gala's red packet campaign.

A slew of recent moves by Douyin have demonstrated the strategic importance of participating in the online payment market. "Payments have become a business that these major internet players are all mapping out because of its value connecting to users," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based internet analyst told the Global Times Tuesday.

On Douyin's app logo, a promotional slogan "sharing 2 billion yuan" is shown in bold type. It refers to the program called reunion hometown year. Users participating in the event starting from February 4 to 26 have the opportunity to win a small slice of the 2 billion yuan, with an 800 million 'red packet rain shower' as the main event on New Year's Eve. 

Douyin announced last week the launch of its in-app payment tool Douyin Pay, a move that aligns with the app's strategic move toward the e-commerce sector while playing a defensive role in the fierce competition among domestic internet players, analysts said.

It has become apparent that Douyin wants to take advantage of the golden opportunity of partnering with the Spring Festival Gala, to attract more users to its payment entry just like its forerunners have done.

WeChat Pay teamed up with CCTV Gala for the first time in 2015 and it turned out to be a successful attempt - within hours, WeChat Pay's users surged from 8 million to around 300 million, the score of which nearly put the payment tool on par with Alipay, which had held a leading position.

From then on, more internet players, wishing to promote their digital payment tools, rushed to bid for the annual gala. But Alipay and WeChat remain the top two players. Alipay has 54 percent and WeChat Pay has 39 percent of the Chinese third-party payment market by value, according to research firm Analysys.

Mu Chu, an analyst from, a Shenzhen-based mobile payment intelligence provider, said that the top two players already have super volume in the mobile payment market, and their growth period has passed. The Spring Festival Gala is a huge opportunity to generate traffic, which is more valuable for newcomers including Kuaishou and Douyin which are still in rapid growth.

Married with gala

Amid the fragmented era created by internet, the annual Spring Festival Gala, dubbed "China's Super Bowl," has not lost its central role as a national tradition for Chinese families, and part of the national culture since 1983.

"Although its view rating cannot be compared with last century, the Gala is still an IP that has tremendous business value and high credibility," Liu said.

Meanwhile, the show also needs to adapt to a young generation who are born and immersed in the digital world. "The marriage is a win-win," Liu added.

Partnering with the Gala offers those red packet providers a cost-saving opportunity faced up with the increasingly expensive user traffic, senior financial industry analyst Wang Pengbo told the Global Times.

According to Wang, Douyin's maiden attempt will lead to a large number of users migrating to its payment platform based on its stable and huge daily active users of 600 million. 

After the launch of red packets by Chinese search engine giant Baidu in the Spring Festival Gala in 2019, it saw a brief sugar hit of traffic, but ultimately it became unable to hang on to new users. 

According to data from a research institution of Sinolink Securities, although Baidu gained more than 100 million new users in the seven days surrounding New Year's Eve, which fell on February 4 that year, its user retention rate was only 2 percent as of February 9.