1.1 Background to the study
Studies have focused on how television programmes that appear to be “real” alters the viewers’ perception of reality (or social reality) (Nwafor, 2015). However, recently a new fad in television has surfaced and it appears to be taking over. Reality television shows are overtaking the networks leaving behind an even bigger effect than that of regular television.
Reality TV as a genre of television programming that has grown over the years and has become an addiction of some sort for many of their viewers especially youth and female segment of the society. According to Hall (2009:515), reality programmes are now a staple of television programming. Many people watch reality shows for several reasons. Reiss and Wiltz (2004) discovered that an element of reality programmes appeal is that they ‘help viewers to feel important because seeing ordinary people on the shows allows them to “fantasize that they could gain celebrity status by being on television.’ (Hall, 2009:517).
The appeals that reality TV shows have on their audiences have led to many products and organisations to explore it for their marketing communications spending and products and service placement. As viewership increased, producers have also improved on contents and come up with better packages that attracts more audiences to stay glued to their TV screens, thereby, also attracting more sponsorship from organisations.
In Nigeria, reality television show has in recent time significantly proved to be a favourite among the youth – particularly those who fall within the range of ages 18-25 (Chikafe&Mateveke 2012). Among these programmes is the Big Brother Nigeria which is the focus of this study and hereafter referred to as BBNaija.
According to Chikafa&Mateveke (2012) the concept of Big brother was borrowed from George Orwell’s novel of 1984 titled ‘fictional dystopia of Oceania’ in which he described a world of never-ending surveillance. In the novel, the dictator who watched over the citizens of Oceania was called Big Brother, and his terrifying slogan was ‘Big Brother is watching you’. In the Big Brother television show, contestants confined in the house compete to escape eviction in order to win the prize money. The reality TV show debuted on the African continent in 2003, and has since then, with the aid of the growth of satellite television in Africa, roused African audience interest and has remained an annual event till date (see: Chikafa&Mateveke 2012).