Reality TV And Specials Betting Advice

Updated: 5212 Learning

Reality TV Betting Over the past few years or so reality TV shows have become increasingly popular and so has the betting surrounding those TV shows. These include X-Factor, American Idol, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Big Brother,

Reality TV And Specials Betting Advice
Jake Ashton Senior News Editor

Jake is a Football and Entertainment betting expert, with a Man City season ticket and a deep knowledge of reality TV betting angles

Reality TV Betting

Reality TV betting, along with Special events betting, is a growing phenomenon with UK Bookmakers. Reality television first came to mainstream attention in the UK with Big Brother (2000) and since then the floodgates have been well and truly opened. 

Most of the big firms including Ladbrokes, William Hill, and Paddy Power have dedicated tabs on the apps and websites for this type of betting. By offering early odds, they can receive column inches from the tabloids and are then quoted by the TV News media, giving them valuable free publicity. 

Subsequently public interest grows in an event and the bookies can then create more markets around the series.  

Love IslandI'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of HereBig BrotherEurovisionStrictly Come Dancing and many more have featured in a range of markets as the bookies look to enhance your interest and attract your cash. 

The OLBG Betting News section will bring you all the breaking reality tv stories along with the latest odds, eliminations, and anything else that will enable you to make good betting decisions.  

UK Reality TV Ratings Analysis

UK Reality TV Ratings Analysis

Below are just some of the special betting events that the bookmakers have offered odds for over the last twenty years. 

Show/Betting Market Category Show/Betting Market Category
American Idol Music Nobel Peace Prize Outstanding Achievement
Bachelor Dating Oscars Cinema
Bacholerette Dating Pop Idol Music
Baftas TV & Cinema Royal Family Monarchy
Big Brother Reality Spoty Sport
Booker Prize Books Stirling Prize Architecture
Box Office Cinema Strictly Come Dancing Dance
Britains Got Talent Talent Survivor Reality
Brits Music The Apprentice Entreperneurship
Election Betting Politics The Great British Bake Off Cooking
Emmmys TV The Masked Dancer Dancing
Eurovision Music The Masked Singer Singing
Glastonbury Music The Traitors Reality
Golden Raspberry Cinema The Voice Singing
Grammys Music Talent The X Factor Talent
Love Island Dating Weather Weather

Reality TV Bookmakers

Most of the bookies embrace reality TV however some do so with more enthusiasm than others, we suspect it comes down to how “bought in” specific bookmakers are. Historically Paddy Power with their unique marketing style have embraced reality tv as this type of show meshes perfectly with their fun approach. Betting Exchange Smarkets are currently our number 1 in the bookies entertainment betting sites table, if you are struggling to find odds on your favourite TV show then go to Smarkets and see if they have reality odds you are after. 

Entertainment Betting Sites: 64 Bookmakers Compared on Reality TV, Entertainment and Novelty Bets

Entertainment Betting Sites: 64 Bookmakers Compared on Reality TV, Entertainment and Novelty Bets

Reality TV Betting

Does the betting market get it right for Reality TV Betting?

These short priced  reality favourites aren't always bombproof betting propositions. In Big Brother 2007 the twins, Amanda and Sam, were as short as 1/5 in the outright betting for the competition on the final day but were beaten by Brian, the second favourite. It is often best to wait to see if there is late money for an outcome as late money is often knowledgeable money.

In the 2006 X Factor competition, Ben was immediately made hot favourite when the finals began however he didn't even make the final show. Leona Lewis was an easy winner, initially she was third favourite with many. 

Image: SouthernDesign

In 2022 one of the most despised politicians Matt Hancock who had been Health Secretary during the COVID pandemic left the Government to become a contestant on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.  His i’m a celeb odds of 33/1 reflected many viewers loathing of the man caught breaking the lockdown guidelines. However he survived the eliminations and ended up in 3rd place after his odds were cut on winning the ITV series  to as low as 3/1. 

Image: ITV

I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here 2024 Betting Guide: (Odds, How to, Contenders and History)

I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here 2024 Betting Guide: (Odds, How to, Contenders and History)

Elimination Markets

Most reality TV shows have one of the contestants voted off each week or episode. This can often be straightforward as it's not hard to see who is least talented or most disliked. However, there are problems with betting on this market.

In Big Brother the rules are often changed and it is not uncommon for one or two contestants to pick the people up for eviction some weeks. Often, even the most hated housemate might escape nomination.

In X Factor 2006 it was clear that the McDonald Brothers were by far the worst act in the finals yet week after week they defied the odds and progressed to the next round. 

Regional Bias

Individual voters can favour contestants who represent their geographical region, take note of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland and those participants who repeatedly highlight where they come from.

The British public often get behind an underdog. It appeared that most of Scotland were voting for the McDonald Brothers! It became a bit of a joke each week, but not for those who were backing them to be eliminated at short odds. 

Strictly Come Dancing often loses a talented dancer because the voting public do no take a shine to them, add in any tabloid gossip and it will not be long before they are hoofing it back home.

Dangers of Reality TV Betting

Reality TV shows aren't produced for betting which makes it a dangerous betting proposition due to:

  • Rule changes - e.g. double evictions in Big Brother
  • Contestants quitting - no refunds for this
  • Contestants being added / reinstated (especially in Big Brother)
  • Contestants removed for rule breaking
  • Programme editing can dramatically effect voting

Awards Betting

Another specials market punters like to bet on is awards. Betting can be particularly intensive on the Oscars and the Sports Personality of the Year, but there is betting on many other awards:


The Oscars are decided upon by a panel. The Oscars normally have some well touted favourites but it seems the Academy often likes to make a point in one or two of their decisions and shock results in some of the major categories are common.


In the lead up to the Oscars or in truth any award ceremony watch out for any news on boycotts, protests, or allegations over a film or actor.

Sports Personality of the Year

As the Sports Personality Award is (currently) decided by phone poll it would be thought not too hard to predict but unexpected results can happen. In 2006 Zara Phillips was a somewhat shock choice, beating hot favourite Darren Clarke. This award ceremony often produces a very short price favourite as one sportsman's achievements are normally head and shoulders above the rest. Common contenders are Captains and influential figures in football, cricket or rugby teams that perform above expectations that year.

Who's Your Bet? BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2024 Contenders and Betting Odds

Who's Your Bet? BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2024 Contenders and Betting Odds

Dangers of Betting on Awards

When there is a so called cert in a category it is often very short odds, but many of them fail to win because:

  • Many of the Academy members are older actors - they vote for who they want to win rather than who should win
  • In the Actor/Actress categories giving the best performance isn't enough - it depends on the character played and the film also
  • In the Sports Personality award it is difficult to predict who is going to vote
  • Voting for the Sports Personality continues throughout the programme - extra focus on a particular sports person can result in many extra votes on the night.

Editorial credit: Joe Seer /

Political Betting

Politics and betting don't normally go hand in hand but there are betting opportunities on the major elections as well as next party leaders. As there are very few candidates in these events it is rare for a favourite not to be very short odds on.

In the General Election there will be odds available for all 650 constituencies but most betting interest will come from the seats that are too close to call or seats where Government Ministers may be in danger. 

Across the globe, an election usually occurs every month of the year. The bigger bookmakers, and we highlight the Betfair sportsbook in this, often have odds available.  

The odds compilers don't normally get these markets wrong so a decent return is only going to usually be made if a very large stake is wagered.

Dangers of Betting on Politics

  • These events are often taking a place a few years from when the bet is placed, therefore:
  • Money can be tied up for very long periods of time - sometimes a better return could be gained from a high interest savings account
  • In the time lapse between bet placed and bet settled anything can happen - war and terrorism are two factors that can majorly influence political opinions and popularity.
UK General Election Betting Odds

UK General Election Betting Odds

Golden Rules of Specials Betting

Only Bet If You Have an Edge

Specials markets are generally poor betting mediums because there is no form to follow, and punters are essentially guessing or going with gut instinct.

The bookmakers tend to offer large overrounds on specials markets. 

How Bookmakers Work and Create Odds

How Bookmakers Work and Create Odds

Bets should only be made if you are able to gain an edge over the bookmaker. The most obvious edge to have would be inside information but that is a luxury very few people have.

Therefore it is important to stick to outcomes that look majorly overpriced. Not all of them are going to win but only one winner every so often should be profitable.

Remember Who Is Voting

Don't forget to view everything from the point of view of the voters or decision makers as this is the key to specials betting.

Many reality TV shows are voted on by teenage girls who send text messages, whereas the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts votes on the Oscars. Bookmakers sometimes underestimate this, and that is when you may be able to make it pay.

Oscars Betting Odds | Academy Awards Preview

Oscars Betting Odds | Academy Awards Preview

Know The Rules

Unless you fully understand the rules then you cant hope to bet successfully on specials. 

Do People Vote For Who They Want To Win Or Want To Eliminate?

Stronger characters get more votes, and quieter ones get less. If there is a vote to win, those with less personality and fans could be eliminated. If there is a vote to eliminate those who generate more negative emotions may be eliminated and those with less personality might last a bit longer.

Do Judges Make The Final Decision Or The Public?

Sometimes you need to map out the logic of how the elimination process will work. Is it possible that two favourites could be up against each other and who would decide which one is saved? Sometimes the judges might have ulterior motives for keeping someone in (e.g: they may be creating good publicity for the show). 


You need to be wary of unexpected events, such as contestants being added to the show or a celebrity quitting.

When Is The Show Broadcast And Who Is Watching?

Im A Celebrity is broadcast later in the evening than some shows, so older less trendy people (Harry Redknapp,Tony Blackburn) tend to do better rather than who the younger teenagers favour. 


  • What are reality and specials betting?

    All non sporting events that you can bet on will come under the umbrella of reality or specials betting. 

  • How are reality and special odds created

    Ultimately in the same way as sports betting odds, the best betting sites factor in historical data, public opinion, betting trends, and expert analysis. 

  • Are there any bookmaker restrictions on reality or specials betting

    You may find the bookies are reluctant to take "bigger bets" on selected events, especially in new formats where the rules of the event could change.

  • How can i win on reality and specials betting

    Of course, there is no guarantee that a bet will win. However, the more study you undertake, the more you watch the event, and the more background knowledge you can glean, the better your chance of realising a profit.


  • Is there betting on all reality shows?

    No there is not. Some TV shows are recorded in advance with the results known by the production staff and media insiders, the bookies will not take bets on these shows. 

  • Is social media important when it comes to reality and specials betting

    Yes, social media plays a role because you can see viewers' reactions to events via their posts. The series often has dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages, and you can learn a great deal from following these feeds. You may be able to place a bet ahead of some breaking news after following the online conversations.

Responsible Gambling

If you are new to gambling or a seasoned pro you will need to make sure that you always gamble responsibly. We have a range of articles to assist you with this including the two below.

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)


OLBG Betting Experts Jake Ashton and Nigel Skinner created this reality TV and Specials betting article. Information was sourced from the best betting sites and the relevant reality, award and political websites.

Jake Ashton

Jake Ashton

Senior news editor

Jake is both our Social Media Manager and Betting News Manager, looking after our breaking betting odds stories and publishing our social media content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

👨‍🏫 Specialist Subjects🔬📚

📺🎥 Jake is our betting news manager. He has an extensive understanding of betting across all aspects of sports, politics and entertainment, but it is the latter where he excels with a close eye on the Entertainment industry, Reality TV and Awards shows betting for our TV & Entertainment betting articles. 🎬🍿

⚽️ Jake is a Manchester City season ticket holder and some say he was before the money arrived too. Never missing a game, his Premier League knowledge is second to none and he will provide his opinion often on our Premier League Content.

🏎️ An avid F1 Fan, jake has attended races at Silverstone, Singapore and Monaco and keep a close eye on the action, both qualifying and the main race on event weekends.

🎰🍒🍀 Jake also provides contribution to our slots content including online slot reviews section.

Nigel Skinner

Nigel Skinner

Blog content manager

Nigel is one of OLBG's senior editors with 19 years of industry experience. Today he specialises in researching and writing about the betting angles to political and mainstream news stories and being the OLBG in-house expert on 'next football manager' betting markets.

Specialist Subjects🔬📚

⚽️👨‍💼 Nigel is an Arsenal fan first and foremost but has an unrivalled knowledge of English football managers at every level. Meticulously putting together our Next Manager articles, Nigel can quite possibly name you every manager of every club in the land, not to mention a pretty good eye for predicting replacements when changes happen. 

📈📊📉 A long-time exchange trader and spread betting fan, Nigel is our go-to for advice on the subjects and uses them daily in his own betting activity. 

🗳️💼 Finally, Nigel loves his politics and [some would say] has an unhealthy interest in the day-to-day events in the UK's political landscape, contributing to all our Political betting content and new pieces.

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