The Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) 2019 ended on Sunday with over 240 million votes cast, according to data from the host of the show Ebuka Obi-Uchendu.
Mercy Eke became the winner of Big Brother Naija season four and the first woman to win the show since inception.
She walked home with a cash prize worth over 40 million Naira, brand new Innosson SUV, Dubai trip for two and other prizes.
Cost of Votes Claims
There were reports flying around that more than N7 billion was spent by voters during the show as it cost N30 to cast a vote on the BBNaija Reality TV programme.
Last year, during the “Double Wahala” edition, speculations went rife on the internet that the BBNaija show got N5.1 billion revenue at N30 per vote.
According to this alleged report making waves on social media and even some “reputed” news media outlets, people spent over N7.2 billion on votes alone.
REVEALED: BBNaija: Nigerians spent N7.2bn on votes
Read more at: https://t.co/NoViJS9Db3
— Vanguard Newspapers (@vanguardngrnews) October 6, 2019
It noted that a record-breaking over 50 million votes amounting to N1.5 billion were garnered in the last week of the show.
The Fact; Reality
However, checks by this reporter revealed that the above claim (of Nigerians spending 7.2bn for votes during the show) is false.
Although there is no official data from the organizers of the BBNaija show (as at the time of publishing this report) on how many Nigerians voted via SMS and other means, many of the votes for the reality event were done online.
A vote by SMS costs N30 but viewers had the chance of doing so with their DSTV or GoTV mobile app on their phones, according to Multi-Choice.
“SMS’s are charged at N30 per SMS. VAS rates apply. Free minutes do not apply. SMS’s in excess of the 100 vote limit will not be considered a valid vote but will still be charged the VAS rate of N30 per SMS,” MultiChoice noted.
“Voting via the website and the mobile site will be available and data costs of the Internet Service Provider will apply.”
Viewers outside Nigeria were not allowed to vote via SMS and could only do so online.
This reporter found out that each DSTV or GoTV subscriber is entitled to 100 free votes during the voting period (which is usually between Monday to Thursday whenever housemates are nominated for eviction).
With this, a viewer can vote for a housemate multiple times on the DSTV app just as every mobile number registered on the DSTV (MultiChoice) website has 100 free votes during the voting period.
Now, with the penchant of Nigerians for having multiple sim cards, there is a high possibility of an individual voter raking hundreds of votes.
Verdict On Voting Cost
Put this side by side with the number of Nigerians with active GoTV and DSTV subscription, and the claim that 7.2b was spent on voting during the 2019 BBNaija show falls flat to the ground!