Peacock is settling in for an extended stay on Love Island USA,
Vulture has learned.
The NBCUniversal-owned streamer has green-lit two more seasons of the dating competition series, an adaptation of the long-running U.K. hit in which impossibly hot and unnaturally horny singles hang out (and hook up) while staying at a luxury villa.
The series began its run on CBS back in 2019 but moved to Peacock in 2022
after the streamer made a multimillion-dollar, two-year commitment to the series following a bidding war with other platforms. Peacock’s bet seems to have paid off: The streamer says the audience for the show’s second summer on the platform grew 20 percent over its 2022 number and that Love Island USA
now ranks as its No. 1 original reality show.
While Peacock declined to offer more detailed data to define exactly how many subscribers have watched the series, the decision to renew Love Island USA
for not one but two
more seasons would seem to suggest the show is more than meeting the streamer’s ratings targets, or at the very least doing well relative to other titles on the platform. What’s more, Corie Henson, head of unscripted content for NBCU Entertainment, says the show’s growth trajectory was a key factor in the renewal. “There were huge numbers for this summer’s season five, which was the second season on Peacock,” the exec tells Vulture. “It’s not like all the fans that were going to come came that first season; the numbers have multiplied, so there are still new people coming to the show every season. You see the potential for growth.”
It’s appointment viewing again, like what we see on linear.
And while competitive bidding back in 2019 likely played a role in Peacock’s original two-season order for Love Island USA
, Henson says the decision to double down with a two-season renewal at the time was not something mandated by ITV, the U.K. media giant that controls the global franchise and produces the U.S. version via its ITV Entertainment division. “We could have picked up the show a season at a time, but we really wanted to make a statement that we believe in this show,” she says. “We also want it to signal to the unscripted community, which like everyone else is going through a bit of a challenging time right now, that we’re still very much in the market and we are still buying.”
But there are also some longer-term financial advantages to going all in on Love Island.
There’s a massive, and not inexpensive, infrastructure behind the show. While the series shares some creative DNA with The Bachelor
(and its many spinoffs), it also has something in common with CBS’s Big Brother
: Rather than airing once or even twice a week during its six-week run, Love Island USA
churns out new episodes on six out of every seven nights. That’s a lot
of television, and it is all produced with almost no turnaround time for producers. In other words, making the show isn’t cheap — but committing to lots of episodes up front allows producers (and thus Peacock) the opportunity to amortize those costs over a longer period, making the whole endeavor more affordable, especially the longer the show runs.
“It’s very much like the Big Brother
model,” Henson explains. “They built that house once back in season six, and they still use that same house because essentially they basically paid their mortgage off, if you will. So we hope that we’re talking to you again in season 35 of Love Island,
because it’s about the economy of scale. The more episodes we commit to, the more it makes sense to us financially.” It’s also one of the reasons why Peacock earlier this month debuted Love Island Games,
which brings together cast members from past U.S. seasons and various international versions of the show for what is the first-ever spinoff of the franchise.
One-third of Love Island’s audience watches the show as it premieres in real time every night.
Henson knows about the economics of CBS’s Big Brother
firsthand: She and her top deputy, NBCU senior VP of unscripted Sharon Vuong, were both producers on the iconic Eye reality show back in the aughts, while Vuong later went on to oversee production of the series as head of CBS’s unscripted division. Vuong was also involved in production of
CBS’s version of Love Island USA
and then, when she jumped to NBCU, helped move the show to Peacock. Even though CBS wasn’t able to make the franchise work for its linear network, Vuong was convinced Love Island
could still thrive at Peacock, in part because of how well the original British Love Island
has done on its U.S. home, Hulu. “The U.K. version has a very loyal fan base, and I think whenever you’re looking at IP, that’s always a really good signal,” Vuong says. “Even though on [CBS] the show only did a certain number, it was a very strong base, and there was opportunity there. I still think there’s an opportunity for the franchise to grow.” The fact that Peacock is able to run “a less sanitized, less ‘broadcast’ version,” as Henson notes, has also helped.
But while streaming’s more relaxed content standards have allowed for a somewhat more risqué show, Henson and her Peacock colleagues have actually stolen a page from the broadcast playbook as part of their effort to bring an audience to the show. Rather than have each day’s new episodes drop just after midnight or early in the morning — the streaming standard — Love Island
’s new installments premiered in prime time, streaming live at 9 p.m. ET last summer. Despite the conventional wisdom that time slots don’t matter for on-demand platforms, Henson believes the linear model has given the show a notable boost. “It’s created a sense of urgency for people to come to the platform so that they can be part of the social-media conversation in real time,” she says. “It’s appointment viewing again, like what we see on linear when a show is working and people sit down in front of their television at eight o’clock.”
Indeed, an NBCU rep tells Vulture that on average, one-third of Love Island
’s audience watches the show as it premieres in real time every night rather than bingeing episodes next-day or later in the week. And because there are six episodes premiering every week, that means those viewers are also opening the Peacock app at least six times every week — another big win, since it increases the odds those subscribers will discover other content on the app while decreasing the chance they’ll cancel the service. “It’s such a big win to find a show that has such a rabid fan base that you can get them to come back day after day,” Henson says.
The two new seasons of Love Island USA
are expected to premiere in the summer of 2024 and 2025.