It's Squid Game versus James Bond as Netflix and Prime Video prepare for a reality game-show duel

Shocked contestants hold their hands up to their mouths in Netflix's Squid Game: The Challenge
Squid Game: The Challenge arrives on Netflix in late November. (Image credit: Netflix)

As a genre, reality TV has never appealed to me – but an upcoming game show-based duel between Netflix and Prime Video might change that.

Two of the world's best streaming services are set for a reality TV showdown in the near future as Netflix and Prime Video prepare to release game shows within weeks of one another. And, based on the trailers for each series, I don't think Netflix is a shoo-in to land this particular streaming platform crown.

Before I dig into the reasons why Prime Video might *ahem* give Netflix a run for its money, let's take a look at those aforementioned trailers. First up is 007: Road to a Million, a James Bond-inspired 'race around the world' competition that'll debut on Amazon's main streaming service beginning Friday, November 10:

007: Road to a Million's premise is a simple one: nine pairs of people, from all walks of life, are set to compete for £1,000,000 (circa $1,225,000). The catch? Succession's Brian Cox, who's been installed as 'The Controller', and his batch of physically and mentally demanding Bond-inspired challenges stand in their way. Once a duo completes a task, they must also answer a tricky question to stay in the race. Answer incorrectly and they're eliminated. No pressure, then.

But hey, the pressure to perform could be more intense than that – and Netflix's Squid Game: The Challenge proves it. Inspired by one of the best Netflix shows of all time, the forthcoming reality TV show brings Hwang Dong-hyuk's survival drama series to life in stunningly accurate fashion. 

Like the show it's based on, Squid Game: The Challenge pits 456 people against one another in games pulled directly from the original series, such as 'Red Light, Green Light', for the chance to win an eye-popping $4.56 million (around £3.78 million). As viewers witnessed in the thriller series, contestants will be forced to form alliances – and decide when to betray their newfound friends – in the pursuit of glory. Check out Squid Game: The Challenge's trailer below:

Given its unprecedented success, you might think Squid Game: The Challenge is a dead cert to win its duel with Prime Video's James Bond reality TV show. Sure, 007 is a legendary spy with decades of history behind him, but few can argue against Squid Game's popularity as a franchise.

That said, I'm not so sure that Netflix's next reality game show is the clear favorite. For one, Prime Video's combination of Bond, Cox (who's still riding high after Succession's hugely successful four-season run on Max), and 'race around the world' premise have all the ingredients of an intriguing watch.

Then there's the fact that 007: Road to a Million will have a potentially vital head-start over its rival. Squid Game: The Challenge won't launch on Netflix until Wednesday, November 22, a whole 12 days after its competitor, meaning Netflix's real-world Squid Game spin-off will be playing catch-up from the outset.

But there's a far bigger issue surrounding Squid Game: The Challenge. The game show made the headlines for the wrong reasons in January, with reports that contestants were subjected to terrible conditions during filming. According to The Sun, "exhausted" participants were made to film in freezing conditions, with one individual even taken to hospital. Speaking to Deadline, Netflix was forced to defend itself, with a spokesperson saying "any claims of serious injury are untrue".

It's unclear how much of The Sun's account is genuine, and nor do we know if 007: Road to a Million's contestants faced similar issues that have simply gone unreported. It's not my place to speculate on either front – but one thing I can theorize is that Squid Game: The Challenge won't be the runaway winner of this particular bout. Based on the footage I've seen, Prime Video's James Bond reality show is coming out swinging – and Netflix better be prepared for an almighty tussle.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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