chinese idol

Into1’s Disbandment Marks End of Era for Chinese Idol Survival Shows

Into1, a Chinese idol boy group, officially disbanded on April 24, 2023, marking the end of an era for China’s entertainment industry

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7:23 AM HKT, Sat May 6, 2023 2 mins read

Into1, the last C-pop boy group formed through the viral idol survival show series Produce Camp, officially disbanded on April 24, marking the end of an era for China’s entertainment industry after a series of governmental crackdowns on toxic fan culture reshaped the landscape.


Into1’s disbandment has been particularly somber for C-pop fans, as the 2021 ban on all future idol survival shows means there won’t be a similar idol group to look forward to in the foreseeable future.


“The story of Into1 is coming to an end. But we believe this is by no means the end for our members, but rather a new beginning. We will definitely meet again in the future,” the group’s official account posted on Weibo, China’s top microblogging platform.


The 11-member boy band was created two years ago through Produce Camp 2021 (also known as Chuang 2021), the Chinese version of the famous K-pop survival franchise Produce 101.


The Produce Camp series first aired in 2018 on China’s video streaming giant Tencent Video and soon became viral online. The franchise has given us popular C-pop groups like Rocket Girls 101 and R1SE.


INTO1 Live

Screengrab from Into1’s farewell livestream. Image via Weibo

A Crash Course in Idol Survival Shows

For those unfamiliar with the concept, idol survival reality shows are akin to programs like X-Factor and The Voice, but done with the intention of forming an idol group.


In the case of Produce Camp 2021, 90 young hopefuls from around the world gathered on Hainan, the largest island governed as part of the Chinese mainland, and spent 10 weeks living together, practicing group choreographies and songs.


Contestants with the least audience votes were eliminated each week until only the 11 most popular participants were left.


Viewers typically have a limited number of votes each day on their social media accounts. But by purchasing products from the show’s sponsors, fans can attain more votes, leading avid fans to make major purchases to support their preferred idol.


Chinese idol, INTO1, survival shows

The 90 trainees from Produce Camp 2021. Image via Weibo


In May 2021, the Chinese government abruptly halted the production of Youth With You 3, a competing idol survival show produced by another Chinese video streaming giant, iQiyi. The production stoppage was due to an incident where fans bought excessive amounts of the show sponsor’s yogurt products to get more votes. Large quantities of yogurt products were discarded by fans, causing outrage online for the amount of food waste.


Later that year, the government instated a ban on all idol survival shows, making Into1 the last group to be produced through the format until now, closing a significant chapter in the Chinese entertainment industry.

C-pop Goes Global

Though idol survival shows may have brought out the worst in extreme fans, they also brought the Chinese entertainment sector to new heights and introduced C-pop to an international audience.


Produce Camp 2021, in particular, attracted viewers from all over the world because of its diverse contestant pool, with trainees hailing from Russia, the United States, and Brazil. Into1, although classified as C-pop, was ultimately an ‘international’ group with members from China, Japan, and Thailand.

Viral moments such as the time when fans held a Russian contestant ‘hostage’ by continuously voting for him to remain on the show despite his wishes to leave, and guest appearances from Chinese celebrities with international star power like Jackson Wang have generated even more hype, resulting in a record-breaking 4.77 billion views for Produce Camp 2021.

New Beginnings?

Fans were saddened by the breakup of Into1, but it seems that many are looking forward to supporting the solo careers of the 11 group members.


A Reddit user under the Produce Camp 2021 subreddit commented: “Chuang 2021 is my first survival show and as I got to learn about the idol industry in C-Ent […] I do share the hopes of many here that this period will result in a major overhaul and upgrades in the idol industry.”


Many netizens in China echoed the above sentiment, hoping that survival shows with better voting regulations will make a comeback in the future. But whether or not this specific reality TV genre will return to screens in China remains to be seen.


Cover image via Weibo

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