Chinese Internet giant Tencent honored the celebration of the Lunar New Year by giving away 500 million “red envelopes” on WeChat. 500 million RMB (US$80 million) were given away in cash on WeChat during “Chunwan”, the China’s state TV extravaganza for Chinese New Year.
CCTV touts its annual hours-long Spring Festival Gala as the world’s most popular TV program with 800 million viewers. Combine the viewers of the Oscars, Emmys, American Idol finales, MTV Video Music Awards and the Super Bowl and you’re not even close.
Red envelopes, also known as “hongbao” in traditional Chinese culture, are gifts typically given to each other during special occasions and holidays including the Chinese New Year. Tencent was the first to take that tradition to another level last year with the virtual red envelope feature allowing anyone to send gifts with a click of a button.
WeChat red envelopes were given at three points during the broadcast last night. By simply shaking the phone during those allotted times, WeChat users had the opportunity to win up to US$800 to be stored in their virtual wallet.
According Tencent, the money actually comes from corporate sponsors.
I tried myself. I didn’t win, but I received a virtual red envelope from my sister-in-law who had a bit more luck 🙂