When the first season of the Nigerian reality television series, Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) first aired in 2006, little did many know that the show would become a major factor in many spheres of the Nigerian and indeed the African society.
At the end of the second season (which took place 11 years after the first), participants have become celebrities, influencers, brand representatives, government ambassadors and multi-millionaires. This is owing to the large population of viewers the show has garnered and the significant following the “housemates” gathered upon their exit.
For example, BBNaija season 3 (Double Wahala) housemate, Tobi Bakre wasn’t a popular figure. His brother and founder of KraksTv, Femi Bakre was. Although Tobi did not win, he revealed in an interview with The Guardian that emerging second runner-up grew his social media following by over 450%. He also signed brand deals with big consumer brands. This includes Unilever, Amstel Malta and Jumia.
The popular appeal of BBN is not quite surprising. The drama, lush accommodation, culture, emotions and large cash prizes -that are key components of the programme’s visuals- have created an alternative reality and provides some vicarious pleasures. The 2019 show alone polled over 240 million votes.
This massive exposure explains the appeal to brands that have sponsored the past editions.
Some history of sponsorships
The Big Brother Naija reality show has scored big when it comes to getting sponsors.
The BBN season 2 which held in 2017 and the following season (3) which held in 2018 has PayPorte Global Systems (PayPorte) as the major sponsor. PayPorte is a Nigerian Omni-channel retail company.
In 2019, Betway Nigeria (Bet9ja), an online entertainment and gaming brand replaced Payporte as the headline sponsor after 2 years. Betway was said to have won the place after “a tough competitive bidding process involving other firms”. Speculations have it though that the betting brand paid well over $1m for the deal.
About 3 months ago, show owners, Multichoice announced Abeg and Patricia as the Headline Sponsors for the 6th edition of BBN starting in a few months.
Abeg is a peer-to-peer social payment platform that allows users to send, request and receive money quickly. It also allows users to seamlessly pay for goods and services, and transfer money to friends and family free of charge.
The news of its sponsorship was surprising to many because Abeg was only recently launched in September 2020. If the report (unconfirmed) that the headline sponsorship of BBNaija costs around $2 million (about N900m), there must be a huge incentive for such investment.
The Attraction- visibility, volume and other numbers!
Brands will scramble to become BBN sponsors because of the massive visibility it provides and its potential impact on adoption. Let us look at some numbers.
Through the duration of the show (an average of 90 days), MultiChoice records a significant revenue through the voting process and enjoys significant user growth and subscription renewal rates. But voting is definitely where most of the money is being made.
For instance, the “Pepper Dem” edition (2019) attracted a total of 240 million votes, two times the number gathered from the previous “Double Wahala” edition (2018). Ebuka Obi-Uchendu disclosed this total number at the grand finale. With this number, analysts have estimated that the organisers of the show should have generated about N7.2 billion from votes (texts).
Now, back to the sponsors’ benefits…
The first evident benefit is visibility. Every jingle carries the names of the sponsors. Strategic locations have the branding paraphernalia of the sponsors. Advert content from the sponsors is aired at intervals during the live show. There are also strategic mentions at the live shows which holds every Sunday.
Aside from these, games are designed to ensure that viewers use the sponsors’ platforms. For instance, they present free shopping vouchers as prizes for some games. The effect is a significant growth in first-time users.
For example, before Payporte sponsored BBN, not many people could claim to know much about them or have shopped on Payporte. But all that changed. According to PayPorte CEO, Eyo Bassey, after they became the major sponsor of Big Brother Naija in 2017, orders on the platform grew astronomically.
He said that they were struggling to fulfil orders owing to the surge as the platform was designed to only process 5,000 orders daily. He further reiterated that if the show had gone on for 6 months, PayPorte might have hit a breakpoint and may not be able to deliver.
Bet9ja’s story wasn’t so different…
When the betting company suddenly withdrew from the Nigeria National League and veered into an unconventional territory to sponsor Big Brother Naija, they raised many eyebrows. That is because, according to analysts, about 82% of active betting site visitors in Nigeria are sports or football fans. But the company claimed it wanted to reach a market segment that had been latent.
According to it, the target was to grow the brand by 35% and increase patronage by 10% especially among socialites between 17 and 50 in metropolitan locations. They claimed this objective was met and surpassed.
The big tech winners
Aside PayPorte which was a headline sponsor, other tech sponsors of BBN include Airtel, Oppo Mobile, Nokia, Flutterwave and Kudabank.
Flutterwave sponsored several tasks during the BBN Season 5 edition. Housemates were given the task of hunting for treasures. Divided into three teams, the housemates were tasked with first diving into a pool in search of clue cards and then playing a game of charades with the cards they found. At the end of the task, housemates from the winning team won the prize of N1 million.
When the company raised its Series B a few months before the show, it claimed it had processed 107 million transactions worth $5.4 billion. A few months after, Flutterwave reported that the number has increased to over 140 million transactions worth more than $9 billion and with more than 290,000 businesses using its platform to carry out payments.
It closed $170 million series C shortly after at a valuation of over $1 billion.
KudaBank (Kuda), one of Nigeria’s early digital banks fully licensed by the Central Bank was one of the sponsors of the BBN Season 5 edition.
Kuda gave the housemates a task that was divided into two very exciting sessions. Housemates were divided into three groups for this game; Team Free Bank Transfers, Team No Funny Charges and Team Free ATM Card.
When the company announced a Series A $25 million raise in March, it hinted a very strong growth the year before. At the time of the seed round 4 months before, Kuda claimed it had 300,000 registered customers. The figure more than doubled to 650,000 before 2021.
According to the CEO, Babs Ogundeyi, Kuda did about “$500 million in transactions per month” in November for services like bill payments, card transactions and phone top-ups. The number increased to ” $2.2 billion in February 2021″.
No doubt, Big Brother Naija has become the biggest reality show out of Nigeria. Some commentators say it is the biggest in Africa so far.
There have been some controversies surrounding the show though. For instance, some people are uncomfortable about the morality of the content, and the fact that until the last 2 editions it had been hosted outside Nigeria. But the organizers seem to have found a way around these.
Abeg is a young and ambitious fintech company. Patricia is a cryptocurrency company chasing the status of the leading cryptocurrency trading company in Nigeria, Africa, and Europe.
Both companies have a lot to gain from the partnership with BBN for this edition as the experience of the others have shown. But, time, they say, is the test of all truths.