How the coronavirus lockdown made ‘Date Rush’ the number 1 show on television

Sun, 10 May 2020 Source: Nenebi Tony

“Everyone in the studio was shocked. No one saw that coming.”

Ayerkie Sheila Narnor, the producer, described the mood in the studio during the taping of the 9th Episode of Date Rush (Season 3), which just aired on TV3 on Sunday, May 3, 2020.

In the episode, Ignatius, walked on stage in a pink shirt full of confidence and high energy. He projected eloquence laced with humour in his introductory video. He had the 10 ladies on stage eating out of his hands from the moment he walked on stage. MrszKarl asked if she could buy him. Freelove said he made her feel “great and blessed”. Maame sang for him and said she feels like “he’s the one I have been waiting for”.

MrszKarl turned off her light because “he’s too handsome” and another lady did because she’s “too jealous” to deal with how ladies will be all over him. Darkoa, who together with Emefa were the Queens of The Tribe Called Curve said, “They say real men wear pink and I can see that.”

The studio audience couldn’t stop cheering the moment he got on stage. Even host Nii Kpakpo Thompson said he wasn’t going to give any closing remarks because Ignatius spoke words of wisdom in his final video played.

Freelove was almost certain she was going to be Ignatius’ final pick when he picked her as one of his last 2 choices out of the 7 ladies who left their lights on. She said, “Before you choose me, I choose you.” It was obvious Ignatius gave her the vibe she’s the one. He kept his gaze on her, may be because he was standing in front of her.

When the final moment for Ignatius to put off the final light and pick his date, he surprisingly walked to Freelove and turned off her light. He then walked to Maame and turn off her light too. He said he didn’t find what he was looking for in any of the women there. Freelove exploded calling him “disrespectful and rude”, with Darkoa chipping in a few harsher words.

“Date Rush is a dating show. The idea is to help people find love. If someone comes on the show saying they are looking for love and they are not, there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t possibly access if everyone is single or not”, it is clear producer Sheila doesn’t buy Ignatius reason for turning down all the ladies.

Ladies on social media went after Ignatius calling him disrespectful, foolish and every insult under the sun.

Guys rallied around him naming him King Iggy. One commenter on Facebook said, “Revenge on Spartans. Ignatius brought back the glory guys have lost in the game of ladies bashing and refusing.”

The comments of the guys are a sharp departure from the previous weeks of guys expressing anger at women for rejecting guys for reasons like “he doesn’t know how to dance” and “he is too short”.

Date Rush is dating game show that airs on TV3 on Sundays at 8pm. The show is in its third season. The two previous seasons have aired on Fridays.

Ayerkie Sheila Narnor was appointed producer from the second season. The first thing she did when she took over was to extend the set up and make the stage bigger and include dancing as part of the entry.

“You can think of an idea and somewhere in the world, that same idea is being thought of by someone else. There are several dating reality shows in the world. The dancing was to distinguish it from any dating show in the world and make it as Ghanaian as possible.”

While Sheila takes credit for the addition of the dance, she doesn’t take credit for the girls using it as a basis for accessing if a guy is worthy of a date. For that she says, “They are usually just having fun and being silly when they say things like that.”

As part of Sheila’s second season modification, she had as part of her criteria for being on the show, being bold, confident and outspoken during the audition.

During the second season, Sheila noticed Date seekers usually have a lot to say, whether by way of complains or excitement when they exit the stage. She decided to add a behind-the-scene segment on the show for the audience to get to experience those moments.

A co-host, Anita, was added to do a behind-the-scene interview. She also noticed the ladies usually had questions that needed answers, for instance, why the guys are single and the reason their last relationship ended. She decided to add a third profile video to handle those questions. To make the dance even more pronounced, a DJ was added.

The additions made to the third season were well-received by the show’s growing fanbase. However, it was the show’s time slot being changed from Friday to Sunday that did the magic.

Based on a research I did for my upcoming book, Guards of the Fourth Estate, TV3 has always owned Sundays from its first year. Sunday evenings have the highest TV viewership in Ghana and TV3 the biggest market share of that. Moving a show like Date Rush to Sunday was the network’s bet of confidence in the show. The show didn’t disappoint, attracting 20% of the viewership.

On March 23, 2020, the president addressed the nation, to announce a ban on public gathering in the country. Most Ghanaians who are not traditionally TV viewers tuned in the hear president speak. Those who tuned it just kept their screens on and Date Rush happened to be the show that aired after the President’s speech.

The president has addressed the nation 7 times since then with 5 of those happening on Sundays. The addresses have drawn more eyeballs to the show, giving people something to talk about during the lockdown.

“The rational of the show is to celebrate live and create a culture where the youth are comfortable about being in relationships. It just happened that we created something for people to talk about and enjoy during these trying times”, Sheila says.

There has been a global spike in television viewership since last March when the Stay-at-home orders have been enforced in most countries. Researchers say the spike has been in the areas of news and kids programming. In the US, the New York Times has announced entertainment shows on television has seen their audiences shrinking, migrating to streaming platforms. 76% of American homes are now subscribed to streaming platforms with Netflix being the leading benefactor. Television viewership these days is mainly for news purposes.

In Ghana, streaming platforms and social media platforms has experienced the global spike too. MTN announced a 20% increase in data usage during the quarantine.

Date Rush, though an entertainment show on television, has benefited from the spike in online streaming.

Sheila says the show’s biggest drive is the online community it has built. The show is watched three times more on Facebook Live than it is watched on Television. The interactive aspect of online viewing is why people watch the show online more. She added that even people who watch the show on TV, do so and then go online to discuss. The has been number 1 on the Twitter trending topics for Ghana since the stay at home were announced.

TV3’s embrace of the brave new world of digital media is the reason the station still maintains its lead as the most viewed TV station in Ghana. Date Rush’s success is an example of how television stations can use digital media to their advantage.

Columnist: Nenebi Tony

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