If there are two genres of television that can be said to have dominated Africa’s biggest TV and media content markets over the last decade, it would be sports and reality TV. Sports are a given, with football always being a tremendous draw, but the likes of reality show Big Brother Naija from Nigeria have proved immensely popular. In fact, the draw of reality TV across the continent has even led to the colossal international streaming platform Netflix to invest. On March 18, Netflix launched its first African reality TV show: Young, Famous, & African.
The show draws people from across the continent, as detailed by AfricaNews, including Diamond Platnumz from Tanzania, 2Baba from Nigeria, Zari the Boss Lady from Uganda, and South Africa’s Kayleigh Schwark. It’s a huge market to cater to, and it’ll only get bigger, with the report by Eutelsat forecasting a world-leading 35.7 percent growth in Africa and the Middle East’s TV market through to 2023. As of right now, the largest producer of rice in Africa is also the largest media market: Nigeria has been a dominant force in reality TV rankings.
Still, we’re now at the start of what could be a new era of African TV preferences. Just as they once were, game shows appear to be making a comeback. Thanks to a flurry of new and returning shows, as well as new ways to engage as an audience, game shows could start to challenge reality TV. Naturally, not all shows made in Africa are broadcast across the continent, but those that succeed in the major markets sometimes reach others.
Classics return to bolster several new game shows
Perhaps the biggest news to hit the African game show scene over the last couple of years is that Nigeria’s immensely popular Who Wants to Be a Millionaire will return. As you can see in this article from Guardian, not only was it scheduled to return on March 27, 2022, after a five-year hiatus, but it’ll also have the much-loved Frank Adoho back as the show’s host. Having originally run from October 2004 to September 2017, the show proved a big hit, with it only stopping due to the show’s sponsor pulling out. WWTBAM goes live again on Africa Magic and STV, with the former seemingly doubling down on new game shows. The leading producer of content for Africa by Africans also launched Come Play Naija on March 3, 2022, featuring two teams competing across five different games for millions of Naira and surprise prizes.
On March 5, 2022, Tiff Media also got in on this surging interest in game shows by producing Family Fame. Pitting Nigerian families against each other, the Seyi Law-hosted show takes the form of a kind of Family Fortunes adaptation, with members going head to head to guess the most popular answers to surveys. Being such a huge media market, it’s not surprising that Nigeria is a hotbed for the new wave of African game shows. We’ve even heard superstar Davido say that he’s working on a game show. In an interview relayed on March 8, 2022, the Afrobeat artist said it’s like Fear Factor, with the winner getting lots of money and joining him on tour. In other major markets, South Africa and Ghana, one of the United States’ biggest game shows arrived in 2019. The move to bring Family Feud to Africa was run by host Steve Harvey and his company. In fact, Algeria remains one of only ten holdouts for the classic show Deal or No Deal.
More ways to play than just watching on TV
One of the ways in which reality TV has been able to become so popular is through the conversation and debates that emerge on social media. Since the guidelines from AUC and the Internet Society were revealed in 2017, and for some time beforehand, internet accessibility has been steadily increasing, opening people up to the likes of social media, but also other mobile entertainment products. In South Africa, the couch contestant app KFC launched is used alongside Family Feud for people to play along in real time with the show’s airing. The app challenges people at home to #BeatTheFeud, offering R10,000 in prizes as well as access to the KFC menu within the app.
Game shows have also staked a claim in the mobile live casino Betway platform, alongside the likes of Sarati Real Baccarat and Live Nightclub. Now, anyone connected to the internet can bet on game shows like Live Mega Wheel, Live Cash or Crash, and Deal or No Deal Live, playing in real time. Of course, there are still the classic ways to play along, with online store WantItAll in South Africa listing the digital WWTBAM game device for R2,050, but it’s also clear that mobile gaming has become a new hotspot for the millions of game show fans across Africa. On the Play Store of Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Kenya, the top-grossing trivia apps list as QuizDuel!, Trivia Crack, Trivia Star, Millionaire, and Jeopardy!, per SimilarWeb.
In March 2022, in particular, there was clearly a huge push to capitalize on a renewed interest in game shows on the continent. While much of this was concentrated in Nigeria, the massive media market can often be seen as a precursor to the trends that will be blossom later on in other Sub-Saharan nations. With more ways than ever to be a couch contestant now, it seems likely that the game show fad won’t fade anytime soon.