$100k? $500k? …do reality show prizes make a difference?

What’s a Reality TV prize really worth?

A winning couple on Love Island Australia will pocket $50,000 while a Lego Masters pair walks away with $100,000.

Pooch Perfect is also offering $100,000, the same size as a win on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Australian Ninja Warrior, Australia’s Got Talent and The Voice.

If you enter MasterChef Australia the prize is $250,000, while Australian Survivor offers $500,000.

But there’s no guarantees that a show with a swanky loot will translate into a better level of contestant or higher ratings. So why offer anything more than $100,000?

Daniel Monaghan, Network Director of Programming at 10 told TV Tonight, “We often have conversations, as I’m sure the others do, about what prize money should be.

“It’s a conversation on every show, but it was deemed to be $250k for The Amazing Race for the intense process that they put them through.

“It’s $500k on Australian Survivor, but Survivor was always synonymous with the million dollar prize money in the US.

“So there are always conversations around what the prize money is going to be. You land where you land…”

This year My Kitchen Rules has even cut its prize from $250,000 to $100,000.

Angus Ross, Network Director of Programming at Seven, said the reduction was a sign of economic times.

“The size of the prize money does not impact our ability to cast. I’d rather cut the prize money than impact what you see on screen,” he said.

Indeed sometimes the biggest prizes have been on the biggest duds. The HotHouse in 2004 gave away a prize valued at $2m and struggled in the ratings. Similarly The Big Adventure gave away $1m -back in 2014 649,000 viewers was a failed finale.

Here are some of Australia’s biggest TV prize winnings:

1) $2,000,000  (house, land, 2 cars, boat) Simon and Jules, The HotHouse, 2004
2) $1,016,000 – Andrew Skarbek, Million Dollar Minute, 2015
3) $1,000,000 – Rob Fulton, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005
4) $1,000,000 Martin Flood, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005
5) $1,000,000 – Trevor Butler, Big Brother, 2004
6) $1,000,000 – Mark Sellar, The Big Adventure, 2014
7)  $1,000,000 – Edwin Daly, Hot Seat, 2016
8) $935,000 – Darren and Deanne, The Block, 2015.
9) $932,577 – Yolanda Stopar, Temptation, 2006
10 $857,655 – Tracey Korsten, Temptation, 2006
11) $836,000 – Greg Mathew, Big Brother, 2005
12) $815,000 – Will & Karlie, The Block, 2016
13) $755,000 – Dean & Shay, The Block, 2015
14) $736,000 – Steve and Chantelle, The Block 2014
15) $730,000 –  Tess & Luke, The Block 2019
16) $701,241 – Rob O’Neill, Temptation, 2005
17) $672,357 – Stephen Hall – Temptation, 2005
18) $664,667 – Joanne Segeviano, The Price is Right, 2005
19) $663,738 – Brigid O’Connor, Temptation, 2005
20) $645,000 – Hayden & Sarah The Block 2018


  1. white orchid

    The prize money has to be worth the contestants effort. To take ten weeks out of work and be cut up, injured, starved and exposed to vector borne disease on Survivor requires some decent monetary incentive or reward.

  2. As Mitchell & Webb say in their “Apprentice” sketch, the smallest large amount of money an idiot would consider worth totally humiliating themselves for is 100 grand.

  3. I reckon cash prize money should be 50k singles and 100k couples and no more. For the average person that’s a years wages. Many just go on for the glory anyway. If there are additional things like book deals, endorsement they can be added.

  4. I think it should depend on what the contestants are put through during the show as well as what the budget for the show is…if a show has a high budget and high production values, it should also be offering a higher cash prize than a general, small game show that airs at 4 or 5pm.

  5. Must be about time for yet another reboot of The Price is Right 🙂

    Or they could even bring back It Could Be You, but who could replace the irrepressible Tommy Hanlon Jnr? In it’s day they gave away big prizes – big for that time but nothing really life changing like today.

  6. The Chase AU is quite popular yet most contestants walk away with $zilch. Even the winnings for those who do beat the chaser are usually modest. Comparatively, there is/was more $$$ at stake in shows such as It Could be You (1960s), The Price is Right (“It’s a new car!”), Temptation and Hot Seat.

  7. If I was 10, i’d make a survivor season with a $1,000,000 prize to create more buzz. The prize is significant in this show when it comes to gameplay.

    The US Winners season has made it $2million this season so basically whoever wins will have won at least $3million from the show, making them the best player of all time. That’s significant when it comes to fans of the show, so the prize does matter.

  8. Yes, though Race Across the World may be more about the achievement than the prize. That said though for reality shows which requires weeks or months off work you either have to be in a job where you can take such a sebatical or it be worth giving up your job for a one in however many shot of a decent cash prize.

  9. I think sometimes with a great cast, the winners earn the big win (survivor cast have brought the readings for 10 so only fair they get a nice cut) , the block people clearly earth their dough for Nine, then you have MAFS who have to settle for either Love or Social Media humiliation.

    Sometimes a prize amount announcement gives people an impression of how cheap a show may feel. I know some didn’t watch pointless purely because they win nothing pretty much.

  10. Large prize pool amounts were a major drawcard for shows, such as Sale of The Century, which was also made under the title Temptation & Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It was quite a while ago, so I can’t remember why The HotHouse failed to rate higher, though I remember recognising the house as it was large & visible from one of the major roads in or near one of the Bribie Island settlements in Queensland. Maybe it was the choice of location at that time, compared with other appealing suburbs for homeowners across Australia.

    Some shows that were appealing to viewers have had nominal prizes, such as Hard Quiz & Letters and Numbers. Certainly high rating programs by ABC & SBS expectations.

  11. David, the Australian version of The Amazing Race only offers a cash prize of $250,000!

    Unless the prize money for the next season has gone up to $500,000?

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