ITV Studios is hopeful that broadcasters around the world are going to double down on Love Island after the reality show moved to two seasons a year in the UK. The Hell’s Kitchen studio is also planning its next expansion moves, as it looks to acquire more third-party formats and partner with producers in Latin America and East Asia.
ITV’s youth channel ITV2 is currently broadcasting Love Island‘s first winter season, filmed at a villa in South Africa. Although the show has been overshadowed by the death of former presenter Caroline Flack, it has been consistently attracting more than 2M viewers and beating competition on rival channels.
ITV Studios is now in talks to take the two-season-a-year formula and make it work in other territories, according to Mike Beale, managing director of ITV Studios’ Creative Network, and global entertainment president Maarten Meijs. It’s a model they have had success with previously after The Voice moved to two seasons a year on NBC in the U.S.
“It shows that it’s not just a summer hit,” Beale said of the winter season, in an interview last week at the UK Screenings. Meijs added: “The UK is very pivotal in the global and international market. It’s definitely a development others are following. There are only a few shows which can carry multiple seasons a year.”
Beale added, however, that you can have too much of a good thing — which is why the UK winter and summer editions of Love Island will be slightly shorter to accommodate both seasons in the schedule. They are imploring other territories to exercise similar discipline, with the format now in 15 countries, including France where it will launch on Amazon this month.
“The great thing about Love Island is it sustains an audience, but I think that time is finite,” he said. “We’ve been pretty tough globally that four to six weeks is the optimum period of the show, and we’ve kept it to that. So the winter and the summer gives you the opportunity to have more of it, but not a 12-week long run, where I think the editorial might start to suffer. It’s a stronger way to do it.”
Beale added that CBS’s investment in Love Island has helped give confidence to other buyers, even though the show was not a big ratings winner when it premiered last year. CBS is going again this year and Beale said it serves a bigger purpose for the network. He explained: “These networks need to feed a whole pantheon of [digital] services that they run. There are very few shows that do that.”
Beale was speaking to Deadline at the UK Screenings, where ITV Studios hosted global buyers for a formats festival at iconic London music venue, The Roundhouse. The studio showcased formats including Rat In the Kitchen, the Masked Singer-meets-Hell’s Kitchen show, which was created by Possessed TV and is being piloted by BBC One.
He said that ITV Studios wants to take full advantage of a “golden age of content” by partnering with more producers through format deals, acquisitions, and early-stage backing. He hopes this will also help push the company into territories where it currently has no creative stronghold. “One of the things we hope to do is bring more partners in, don’t do it on your own, don’t be a pariah,” he explained. “There are regions of the world where we’re not present from a creative perspective — we’re not in Latin America, we’re not in the Far East.”
Beale added that ITV Studios will look to acquire more formats after rivals like Endemol Shine Group have had success adapting shows including The Masked Singer internationally. “We’ve not been an aggressive acquirer of content like our competitors, as far as going into the market and picking up formats early as they come out. We want to make more bets. We picked up Ninja Warrior in the UK and took it to the [ITV] network, should we have taken it everywhere?” he said.
Beale thinks entertainment is at a “tipping point,” with the rise of the streamers meaning that they must continue looking well beyond high-end drama to keep audiences happy with new content. “The sheer volume of content that’s needed now in the global landscape, mixed with pure economics, means that entertainment is going to rise,” he said. As streamers look to formats like Studio Lambert’s The Circle, in the case of Netflix, or indeed Love Island, Beale added: “You’ve got a tried and tested formula that you can pick up, you don’t have to do two years of research and development.”