The Influence Of The Big Brother Naija TV Show On Young Nigerians

Big Brother, is an international reality show that originated in the Netherlands and first aired in 1999.

In Big Brother, contestants, known as housemates, live together in a house for about 90 days and are cut off from communication with the outside world for the duration of the competition. 

The Big Brother house is fitted with several cameras in all areas of the house denying contestants any form of privacy during their stay.

Housemates are put to one task or the other and are given instructions by a bodiless voice that identifies himself simply as 'Big Brother'. 

In private sessions with Big Brother, housemates can nominate who amongst themselves they want evicted. The person(s) with the most nominations will be up for eviction and can only rely on viewers to be saved from evictions.

Big Brother is a popularity contest, based on looks, personality and grit. Though the show originated in the Netherlands, it has spawned franchises in more than 50 countries and regions across the world. As at April 2020. Big Brother had produced 480 winners.

The concept of the Big Brother show is based on George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. The book is set in a dystopian future where all the activities of the citizens of Great Britain are monitored and controlled by a shadowy figure, known simply as 'Big Brother'. A common phrase in the book is 'Big Brother is watching you' because Big Brother has eyes and spies everywhere and anyone that is suspected of straying out of line, is immediately removed and executed.

In 2006, Big Brother Nigeria aired with 14 housemates ready to fight it out for the $100,000 cash prize. Katung Aduwak won the first edition of the show, hosted on MNET. 

The first edition was hosted by Olisa Adibua and Michelle Dede, and though Katung won that edition, his housemate, Ebuka Obi Uchendu has become the most popular Big Brother contestant from that season. 

The show returned as Big Brother Naija in 2017, with Ebuka Uchendu as the host and has kept Nigerians captivated since then.

In 2017, Efe Ejeba won the Big Brother Naija: See Gobe edition. The show followed the outline of all the other Big Brother editions, with housemates playing games and putting each other up for eviction. There were a few twists and surprises, with 'fake housemates' introduced to shake things up in the House.

There were 14 housemates in this season and they spent 77 days in the house. Bisola Aiyeola was runner up in the second season and has since the end of the show, been carving a niche for herself in the Nigerian entertainment industry with movies and music. She is one of the more popular faces from the season. 

 

The third season, Big Brother Naija: Double Wahala launched in 2018, and housemates were in the house for 85 days. 

Miracle Igbokwe won this season and Cynthia "Cee-C" Nwadiora was runner up. This season had housemates that were able to transfer their popularity within the house into real life influence. Tobi Bakre, Oluwabamike "Bambam" Olawunmi, Temidayo "Teddy A" Adenibuyan are only a few of the housemates that have remained relevant outside of the Big Brother house. 

Teddy and Bambam continued the relationship that blossomed in the House on the other side and are now married and have a baby together. 

Some viewers and fans also think that there is a possibility of finding love in the House. According to a survey by marketing and public relations technology company Plaqad in 2018, about 70% of Big Brother Naija viewers are female and more than half of the respondents believe that the show is a surer way to success than a University Degree.

The fact that the show relies heavily on viewer  participation helps in the popularity of these housemates. Viewers have to vote to keep their favorites in the house, this inevitably creates a bond between housemates and viewers. 

Housemates with their different personalities and star power, are also able to create a cult like following among fans, who create unsolicited fan accounts for their favorite housemates and go several lengths to keep them in the house. 

Viewers are invested in the 'safety' of their favorites from evictions week in, week out, and feel like they are responsible for keeping these housemates in the house and eventually helping them win. 

The fourth season, Big Brother: Pepper Dem in 2019 is the most explosive season yet.

There were 26 housemates, the show ran for 99 days and 60 million worth of prizes were up to be won. 

This season had all the ingredients of a thrilling reality show- rivalry and cutthroat competition.  There was a fierce rivalry between two of the housemates, Natacha "Tacha" Akide and Mercy Eke that translated beyond the house into a rivalry between their fans. 

Mercy Eke emerged winner of the fourth season of the competition and first female to win, after a fight in the House earned Tacha Akide an early disqualification. 

 

Prior to Tacha's disqualification, the winner was down to Tacha and Mercy, a battle of fans really, after her disqualification she acquired 'martyr' status with her fans and fan devotion rose several notches. 

 

Celebrity worship in Nigeria, like never before seen, developed with Tacha's disqualification, which also fed the fires of Mercy's fans. Big Brother Naija enabled these women to attain god-like status with their fans. 

The fourth season of the show polled over 240 million votes by viewers and the finale episode alone garnered about 50 million votes. It is undeniable that the show has a lot of invested viewers and an incredible influence on the Nigerian youth. 

 

The popularity of the show is also an attraction for brands and companies to get their products in the faces of their target audience. The show has seen a lot of collaboration with heavyweight brands over the years. Payporte, BetNaija, Minimie Noodles, Pepsi, are only a few of the sponsors of the show through the years. 

Housemates after the show, as part of their prizes or due to their popularity among viewers, also bag endorsement deals from some of these brands and companies. 

From the call for auditions, to the views and participation, Big Brother Naija captivates the Nigerian youth. It is an opportunity to be involved in something grander than themselves. The show confers an almost instant celebrity status on housemates and these youths believe that it might be their one shot at fame.

 

75% of ex-BB Naija housemates surveyed by Plaqad shared that the show helped them achieve some of their life goals and they would encourage everyone to try out for the auditions. 

 

It is also an opportunity to change their lives or determine the course of others. In a country where little is within your control, the power to send someone home from a competition (and cost them 60 million worth of wins) or fight to keep them there till they emerge winner is intoxicating. 

 

That is the power that Big Brother Naija has given to Nigerians. 

 

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