Last week, auditions were held nationwide for the 2019 Big Brother Naija reality TV show and with it emerged a new and surprise sponsor; KC Gaming, popularly referred to as Bet9ja.
— Bet9ja (@Bet9jaOfficial) February 1, 2019
Techpoint can now confirm authoritatively that the online sports betting company, with both retail and online presence, is the official primary sponsor of the 2019 edition of Big Brother Naija, having released the sum of ₦1.08 billion ($3 million) from its coffers for the reality TV show.
More interestingly, Big Brother Naija might finally end up being produced from, and aired in, Nigeria, with a purported venue in Lekki or Banana Island, both spruce sections of Lagos Island.
For the Big Brother Naija faithfuls, the reality of this is game-changing considering that when the organisers announced South Africa as their choice location for both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the show, it was greeted with tension among Nigerians.
Being only for Nigerian contestants, expectations were that the show would take place in Nigeria. But the two last editions of Big Brother Naija ended up being produced and aired outside the shores of Nigeria.
In defence of this, the organisers of the show, MultiChoice issued a statement that the choice to film Big Brother Naija in South Africa, amongst others, hinged particularly on the availability of a suitable house there.
But was the housing problem so deep or was this merely a rhetorical attempt at concealing the actual reasons behind MultiChoice’s inability to produce its Nigerian franchise in Nigeria? Certain reports drew a parallel with the fluctuating state of the economy, alluding that the fundamental reasons were steeped in pressing socio-economic challenges confronting Nigeria.
In retrospect, hosting Big Brother Naija under such volatilities did seem an utterly unwise thing to do. But now, with an investor whose pocket goes very deep, it’s an entirely different affair.
Looking at the antecedents of Bet9ja, there is no doubt that the online sports betting company has the financial muscle to grant Big-Brother-Naija-loving fans their cravings. In 2017, Bet9ja signed a ₦200 million sponsorship deal with the Nigerian Football Federation to become sole title sponsor of the Nigerian National League, Nigeria’s second tier division, for three years.
Its website is currently the second most visited in Nigeria, after Google, according to Alexa. It also has a highly ubiquitous retail division that enables it reach that individual, at the nook and crannies of the country, who has no Internet access, making it therefore the most valuable sports betting company country-wide.
So essentially, with the reported ₦1.8 billion ($3 million) sponsorship fee, Big Brother Naija will be able to host in the most exotic places of Nigeria, conveniently accommodate the mouth-watering prize money, put out quality content while meeting deadlines and schedules as well as cater for contingencies like erratic power supply (which by the way is also a major deterrent for producing and airing the show in Nigeria).
But it gets better. Recouping the costs, won’t be a farfetched possibility, considering the lucrative potentials of a collaboration between show business and sports betting within the Nigerian setting. If perhaps, there will be a tipping point, it is likely for the same reason.
Since Big Brother Naija has been airing on screen, the show continues to spur several debates about morality and a perceived decrease in the value of hard work in today’s society. Surely, in this marriage with an equally polarising industry such as sports betting, the debates will be renewed.
Ifeanyi is a desk reporter-turned administrator. Outside of work, I love to read and travel.