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‘Ni hao, y’all’: US talk show Ellen DeGeneres becomes first of its kind to debut in China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 9:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 11:57am

The Ellen DeGeneres Show will start being broadcast on the mainland, becoming the first American daytime chat show to air in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people.

The eleventh season of Ellen can now be video-streamed on demand on Sohu.com, 48 hours after it airs in the United States.

DeGeneres greeted her new audience with a “Ni hao, y’all” after announcing the deal on her show, adding that she wanted to learn more Chinese.

“It’s basically the same show, but it’ll have subtitles and it will be called the Happy Lady Dance Hour,” joked the 55-year-old comedian, who will also host the Oscars next month.

Watch: US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres says ‘Ni hao, y’all' to Chinese audience

Online commenters were excited about the news and some noted DeGeneres’ pronunciation of “ni hao” sounded more like meow or the word for “to pee”.

“Ellen, are you sure you said ni hao?” asked one Weibo user.

Others said that they used to “climb the firewall” to watch the Emmy-winning show, but translations were not good.

“Ellen is really not bad. At least it isn’t that political,” wrote another netizen. “Of course this is maybe also one of the reasons it can be imported.”

Jeffrey Schlesinger, president of worldwide television distribution at Warner Brothers, said the “family-friendly” DeGeneres had “clearly differentiated herself and her talk show from so many of the controversial conflict-oriented talk shows as it has become an increasingly positive alternative in daytime”.

Charles Zhang, chairman of Sohu, said: “The Ellen DeGeneres Show is one of the most well-known talk shows in the US and we believe it could also have strong appeal and relevance with the Chinese audience.”

In November 2012, the show featured a six-year-old Chinese piano prodigy from Hong Kong, Andy Lee, who became popular on YouTube. The boy performed a Rimsky-Korsakov piece, and received a standing ovation.

Video-streaming sites have proved successful channels for American TV shows on the mainland. Comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live premiered on Sohu in December and the massively popular detective programme Sherlock was watched more than five million times in the first 24 hours on rival video-streaming site Youku.