EXCLUSIVE: The UK reality phenom Love Island is getting an American version. CBS has nabbed the U.S. format rights to the smash hit British dating competition series, from ITV Studios and Motion Content Group. CBS has given a series order to the adaptation, to be produced by ITV Entertainment.
Love Island features a group of young single “Islanders” on a lookout for romance who are brought together in a stunning villa in a beautiful tropical location. The network has not set a premiere date yet but the series seems like a suitable companion for CBS’ venerable Big Brother to air alongside its regular or celebrity installment next summer or spring.
The first and second seasons of Love Island performed well for for U.K.’s youth-oriented ITV2. The third season kicked things up a gear, both in terms of ratings in the UK and international sales potential. And the recent fourth season has been breaking ratings records, with the season finale last week ranking as the most-watched program ever on the digital network, with almost half of all adult viewers under 34 tuning in throughout the series.
Love Island has grown into the hottest unscripted series in the UK, transcending reality TV to become a pop culture juggernaut and turning its contestants into instant celebrities. It has already been picked up for another season in the U.K. and is now starting to roll out internationally, with remakes in Australia, Germany and across Scandinavia. In the U.S., the original series was acquired by Hulu in April. The streaming platform picked up the first three seasons as well as a day-and-date release for Season 4.
“Love Island has been a massive success overseas,” said CBS’ head of alternative programming Sharon Vuong. “It’s currently seen, or about to premiere in several European countries as well as Australia, and we’re thrilled that ITV has partnered with us to bring their most successful show to American television. Having seen the reaction of audiences ‘across the pond’ and around the world to this most recent season, we expect American viewers will be captivated by this engaging format. Additionally, Love Island is more than a pop sensation; this series has generated compelling ‘sociological think pieces’ in major publications here and abroad.”
On Love Island, the single contestants must couple up, choosing their partners wisely to win over the voting public or risk getting eliminated and failing to win the prize. In the UK, viewers vote via an app. The CBS version is likely to have some digital/interactive component for viewers as well.
There are twists and challenges (the U.K. series has featured a lie detector, stripteases and obstacle course), though the majority of the original show is based around the conversations between the contestants. Unlike many dating series such as The Bachelor orTemptation Island, there is a less formal structure to the format, with producers reacting to what happens in the house to determine how to proceed. The U.K. version also has a cheeky narrator, comedian Iain Stirling. The creative of the CBS iteration is still being worked out.
“As a format, Love Island breaks the mold with high levels of viewer interactivity and participation that influence the content of the show in a way that’s extremely addictive,” said David George, CEO, ITV America. “It’s a cultural phenomenon that builds anticipation with every episode and creates appointment viewing – a pretty hard thing to do in today’s TV landscape. We’re ecstatic the show has found a home at CBS and look forward to working collaboratively to engage its millions of viewers.”
Love Island is produced by ITV Entertainment, an ITV America company. Executive producers are David George, Adam Sher and David Eilenberg. The series is based on a format owned by ITV Studios and Motion Content Group, repпed by Richard Foster and Chet Fenster, and distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
CBS’ deal for Love Island comes as another format involving dating at an exotic location, Temptation Island, is making a return with a revival at USA Network. ABC has Bachelor In Paradise, which is in a similar vein.
CBS traditionally had not been very aggressive in the unscripted arena because its long-running franchises, Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss, have all done well, and it has a limited shelf space. But the network has been ramping up its reality slate lately and earlier this week ordered Million Dollar Mile competition series from LeBron James and the Big Brother producers.