Hello! For the group auto-ethnographic study, I partnered up with Rose to do a viewing and in-depth look into the Chinese Reality show- The Great Challenge! We divided the different discussion topics between us, and both recorded our own initial reactions to the program via podcast. For this study, I’m looking at the international audiences of the show, and also the production/ how the show was created and formed.
Firstly, I’ll talk about how the show was created.
The Great Challenge, which can also be translated as Infinite Challenge- which is one of the most popular Korean TV shows of all time. Infinite Challenge in Korea holds over 17-18% of all viewership during its weekly timeslot, and the main protagonist of the show has even come to be known as the “nations MC”. The Korean Infinite Challenge was first broadcast in 2005, and has over 545 episodes to date. Due to my personal history with Korean media, I’ve been an avid viewer of this program for a few years- although I was never able to fully immerse into it.
The Great Challenge, is the Chinese version of this show. It’s creation was announced after MBC announced it would be taking legal action against ‘copy-cat’ programs that had been showing up in Chinese media. They announced the plans to take legal action, along with the news that they would be collaborating with one of China’s biggest TV networks CCTV1.
CCTV1 claims the greatest number of international channels in all of China, with an annual 1.2billion viewers. The Great Challenge only increased their viewership- when it rose to become the no.1 highest viewed TV program in China.
Usually, spin-offs have less success or there’s a lack of support from the original cast members and company, however, in this case, CCTV1’s deputy editor-in-chief stated that Infinite Challenge “reaches out to different sectors of the general public and is an excellent show that showcases the different sides of Chinese and Korean culture.” This demonstrates that rather than create a separate program to shove Chinese audiences into a program of their own- the separate program is still intended to be viewed by both cultures, and highlight the amazing cultural aspects of both.
This is also supported by the fact that the original cast of Infinite Challenge have openly supported the Chinese remake- Yoon Jae Suk (the main MC of the show) has often voiced his support and recognition of the program, as well as how well it’s doing in terms of viewership and interaction.
The next segment I was asked to discuss, was the international audiences that viewed this program. Rose and I watched the program via YouTube- which is very international in terms of who can access the content- however most of the comments appear to be in Chinese and the comments that aren’t in Chinese are English speakers asking for there to be more subtitles from now on. The fact that CCTV themselves have uploaded the series onto YouTube, and have taken the time to add subtitles demonstrates that they do in fact know there is an international audience, or at least they are trying to gain one. However, this could also just be a lead on from the international popularity of the Korean program.
Another thing to consider, was brought up in the comments, Chinese people who have immigrated or were born overseas may not know Chinese well enough to understand the language or subtitles of the program- CCTV could be targeting that demographic as well, since someone in the comments was arguing about it (video link). As well as within the program itself, with the Chinese subtitles throughout the program, it seems like communicating the content to such a large audience requires a lot of translating!
Lastly, here is my podcast. It’s not much of a comparison since I was trying to focus on what the program was showing me more than what I could match up with the Korean version (at the time of viewing, I didn’t know it was the official remake).
It was a pleasure to work with Rose, thank you for reading!