Actress Zhang Ziyi and singer Eason Chan take part in Hunan Satellite TV's The X Factor in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo/CFP]
And it is not just the top 10 channels that are launching new shows. Almost every major satellite TV channel is planning to introduce a new reality show, according to Hubei Satellite TV's Zheng Xuan.
As well as Hubei's Super Star China, Shanghai-based Dragon TV is due to launch a star-studded Chinese Idol, and Anhui Satellite TV is about to launch its 80-million-yuan celebrity singing competition Mad for Music. Even the more "serious" China Central Television recently launched a celebrity dancing show Dance Out Of My Life that's broadcasting during prime time.
"Reality shows are still the big draw," Li said.
And as these shows with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars are being broadcast one after another China's TV industry has entered what many are calling a money-burning era.
And this is despite the restriction imposed by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television in 2011, which limited the country's 34 satellite channels to 90 minutes of entertainment broadcasting twice a week during prime time, in order to curb TV shows of "excessive entertainment" and "low taste".
"If stations don't have their own reality shows, they'll have a shortage of star resources for the year-end gala," Zheng said. "So the profit growth of a TV station largely relies on celebrities."
The year-end galas have become a new battlefield where major satellite channels bring together celebrities to try to win the most viewers. Involving celebrities in reality shows and star-making grassroots talent competitions help build a station's star support. To this end, both Hunan's Super Girls and Zhejiang's The Voice of China have proved enormously beneficial.