BEIJING: Local firms like Jiannanchun Group, Gome and Huiyuan Juice Group were among the biggest spenders at the advertising upfront held by CCTV, the largest broadcaster in China, for 2013.

Jiannanchun Group, the spirits manufacturer, topped the auction purchase charts on RMB608m, beating the 498m posted by last year's front runner, Kweichow Moutai, from the same sector.

Other high-profile acquisitions this year included the RMB499m invested by Wuliangye, also from the liquor category, for a sponsored announcement before Xinwen Lianbo, the prime-time news show.

Gome, the electronics retailer, paid RMB215m for the same slot in January and February, covering the key periods of New Year and Spring Festival. The company spent RMB400m at the upfront in all. 

Kweichow Moutai also registered a sizeable outlay topping RMB300m here, taking the total value for this slot in Xinwen Lianbo alone to more than RMB1bn, compared with RMB656m last year.

Some 251 advertisers bought inventory for 2013, together promising RMB15.9bn overall, an 11.4% lift, slightly behind the 13% expansion recorded last year, when the auction raised RMB14.3bn.

"This has been the busiest year in my career of more than a decade, in terms of working overtime and visiting clients," He Haiming, vice director of CCTV's advertising operations and management center, told the China Daily.

Another company making significant moves was the Huiyuan Juice Group, the beverage specialist, which succesfully bid RMB340m for titling rights to Star Avenue, a popular talent show.

"We are confident about the consumer market and the country's economy. Huiyuan's ad spending for 2013 more than doubled that of 2012; we see it as a valuable investment," Zhao Jinlin, vice president of the Huiyuan Juice Group, told CNTV.

The Chinese government has instructed CCTV to cut back on dating, reality and similar offerings seen as promoting "excessive entertainment and a trend toward low taste", alongside reducing the amount of ads that can be aired during dramas.

"CCTV still holds the leading position in the advertisement market in China, with around 75% market share at present," said Li Guangdou, head of Wondersee, the branding consultancy, told the Global Times.

However, competition is increasing. Zhejiang Satellite TV generated RMB1.7bn from its latest annual auction, approximately 1bn of which was attributable to Voice of China, the hit talent show.

"CCTV's leading position in the sector will remain unchallenged in the next two to three years, but after that the market will surely become less concentrated," said Zheng Xueqin, chief researcher at the China Brand Research Institute.

Data sourced from China Daily, CNTV, Global Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff