The coronavirus pandemic has impacted major events, award ceremonies, and reality tv shows like Big Brother.

It is also forcing many Big Brother franchises around the world, including Big Brother Naija, to rethink their format as it bites harder.

This is why Multichoice Nigeria, organisers of Big Brother Naija, held its first-ever virtual press conference to unveil plans for the fifth season of the popular reality tv show over the weekend.

At the event attended by PREMIUM TIMES, the orgnaisers announced changes to the show format while emphasising that the production, this year, will take Covid-19 preventative measures.

They also revealed that over 30,000 Nigerians participated in the online auditions. According to MultiChoice Nigeria, this is the highest number of auditions they have ever received in the history of the show.

Below are some of the major changes BBNaija fans can look forward to seeing as the fifth season kicks off officially on July 19.

Bigger prize money

The Big Brother Naija show has always operated on a ‘winner takes it all’ format, and the organisers have said this year is no different.

Last year, the BBNaija winner, Mercy Eke, took home N30 million prize money, as well as other mouth-watering gifts.

This year, we don’t know how much the prize money will be, but MultiChoice has asked fans to expect something bigger. Some insiders have however said that the prize money this year has been pegged at N60 million.

The main sponsors on the show, sports betting company, BetWay, also revealed a bigger payout for the winner of the show this year as well as other mouth-watering prizes for fans of the show.

PRE-QUARANTINED HOUSEMATES

At the virtual conference, the show host, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, said the entire Big Brother Naija show is like one big quarantine in itself. The housemates are kept together in one location with minimal to zero contact with outsiders until they are evicted. This setup makes the housemates act in interesting ways, which is what brings the drama to the show.

This year, the housemates are currently being quarantined ahead of the show. This is to ensure that they are all healthy and coronavirus-free before they get into the house.

COVID-19 precautions

The organisers also said they are taking lots of precautions to keep the housemates safe and coronavirus-free in season five of the show.

Besides the intense health screenings, MultiChoice also plans to frequently disinfect the house in the course of the show.

They have also said that there will be no live audience at the Sunday eviction show and that external visitors like visiting celebrities and BBNaija Ninjas will not be featured this year.

Carefully tested measures have been put in place to ensure minimal contact with outsiders once the housemates enter the house.

This includes the ‘ninjas’, who may not be very visible during the show due to COVID-19 realities. Before the show kicks off, anyone who shows signs of ill health will as expected not to be a part of the show.

The production crew will work in (socially distanced) shifts. There will be no live audience at the Sunday night eviction shows.

Big Brother Naija season 5 will be broadcast live and 24/7 on DStv channel 198 and GOtv Max and Jolli packages on channel 29.

The organisers said DStv customers who would like to opt-out of viewing the show can do so by sending “BBNOUT [space] smart card number” to 30333. While GOtv customers can do the same by sending “BBNOUT [space] IUC Number” to 30333.

Additionally, they can activate the parental control option on their DStv and GOtv decoders for viewers younger than 18 years”.

The Big Brother Naija reality TV show has produced some of the country’s biggest TV personalities and pop culture influencers since its maiden edition in 2006.

Some of these personalities include Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Gideon Okeke and more recently, Mercy Eke, Mike Edwards, Miracle Ikechukwu, Tobi Bakre, Cynthia “Cee-C” Nwadiora Bamike “BamBam” Olawunmi, Tunde “Teddy A” Adenibuyan, Efe Ejeba, Bisola Aiyeola, and Tokunbo “Tboss” Idowu.