Love Island soared in the ratings when it became the most talked-about show of last summer and now, one year on, the return of the ITV2 reality dating series has smashed the channel’s record and garnered more than 3 million viewers on its opening night.
In 2017, the Love Island launch was watched by an average overnight audience of 1.15 million. On Monday night it averaged 2.81 million, with viewing figures peaking at 3.2 million.
The launch was also watched by far more people than last year’s final, which held ITV2’s previous ratings record having reached 2.6 million viewers.
But perhaps most impressive of all, Monday night’s launch won in the 9pm slot against all the major channels, grabbing a 16 per cent share of live British television viewers (between 9pm and 10:30pm) and beating Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley on BBC1, a new series of Versailles on BBC2, The Queen’s Coronation in Colour on ITV and 24 Hours in Police Custody on Channel 4.
A further 137,000 people watched on ITV+1, with ITV2 also celebrating a 480,000 peak audience watching the live simulcast online on ITV Hub.
Love Island, a reboot of a 2005 celebrity dating show, returned to ITV2 with non-celebrity contestants in 2015. The first series attracted a good audience for a digital channel launching with 597,ooo viewers, but grew in popularity in the second series (launch 825,000) before exploding into popular culture in series three which saw more than 2.6 million people tune in to see the Amber Davies and Kem Cetinay crowned winners and pocket the big money cash prize.
ITV2 would have been expecting a big audience for the series four premiere of the Caroline Flack-hosted show after a great deal of hype and publicity in the past few weeks, but probably never dreamed of beating all of the big five channels in a primetime slot. Equally pleasing will be that 52 per cent of viewers of the opening episode were in the 16-34 year-old age bracket proving that scheduled TV can still attract a young audience for “appointment” viewing despite the lure of Netflix, Amazon and catch-up TV.
There were fears among fans that given the hype around the last series, the new set of Islanders wouldn’t live up to former contestants. But early reactions and reviews are full of praise for the casting in the new series and, after all, Love Island did win a Bafta in May, so the ratings might well stick.