While speaking in an interview with journalists at the Digital Dialogue conference in Dubai, the Managing Director, Multichoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, disclosed that the advancement and production team of Big Brother reality show was made up of 90% Nigerians, as well as how much money the organnizers made from the TV show.
When asked of his reaction to the assertion that 170 million votes from BBNaija came exclusively from SMS, thereby yielding profit in the billions, he said;
“There has been a lot of focus on the figure 170million, but to set the record straight; 170million votes came from 49 African countries, and more than 90% came from online voting. Under 2% of the entire votes came from SMS voting.
“Nigeria is the only country that was enabled to vote via SMS. The actual revenue generated from SMS voting could not be further from the much-touted purported figure. Over and above, the administration and platform set up costs, the majority of the profit went directly to the GSM and data service providers.”
Speaking on if there is a way to ensure that BBNaiija is domiciled in Nigeria so that all the economics of the hosting and its associated benefits come to Nigeria, he said; “Tinsel is domiciled in Nigeria and shown all over Africa. We just premiered a new epic series in Lagos. For this, we built an entire village from scratch to portray the realities of a village setting. Our group of channels are called Africa Magic to reflect our African heritage. Nigeria has the biggest movie industry that is why our productions are domiciled in Nigeria.
“For Hotel Majestic, we had to take over a hotel in Nigeria for two years as a set. It’s a lot of investment. Big Brother demands a lot of complexities and outfitting a house. For the Big Brother shows, we set up one facility for Nigeria, Angolan and other editions. It makes sense from a production perspective. It is impractical to replicate sets across our operations in 49 African countries.
“We choose the best location for each specific production. Big Brother Naija’s production team is made up of 90% Nigerians even though it wasn’t set in Nigeria – so a good deal of skills transfer occurs. Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) comes to Nigeria every year. Speaking as a Nigerian and an advocate of Nigeria, we keep looking at what it will entail to run it locally.”
On what social responsibility programmes Multichoice invest in as an organisation, he said; “We focus on education, health and youth and economic empowerment. Our MultiChoice Resource Centre project is our education initiative that we have been active with for over 14 years.
“What we do here is work with the governments in each state to select beneficiary schools. We then provide audio-visual equipment (which include a dish, decoder with educational channels, TV, generating set, tables, chairs, UPS), to bring learning and the school’s curriculum to life.
“We set up our education package in the chosen schools, train the teachers on how to select relevant programs intended to illuminate and animate information that would otherwise have remained theoretical or textbook based.
“The MRCs are present in over 400 schools across 33 states in Nigeria, tens of thousands of students have benefitted from these centres since inception. The feedback has been astounding.”