'Love Island': Why the show's U.S. version could not replicate its British success despite a celebrity fanbase
‘Love Island’ UK the OG ‘Love Island’ series was an instant smashing success among the Brits. About 3.3 million viewers were reported to have tuned in to the recently concluded season 4 premiere. The show has fans ranging from celebrities like Adele, Paris Hilton, and Tom Holland to key public figures like former chancellor George Osborne declaring their love for the series. In fact, based on its success, the series has been acquired by several other countries including the USA.
Network television giant CBS competed in fierce bidding with several other networks to acquire the rights to this show for the U.S. remake. So, finally in the summer of 2019, the first season of ‘Love Island’ aired in the U.S. amidst much hype and fanfare. The network was hoping to replicate the success of the UK show. So, did they receive it? Well, in a manner of speaking, yes. The U.S. version had roughly about 2.6 million viewers tuning into each episode. The number is very low when you consider the American population.
The show format is that eleven hot 20-somethings are put up together, where they are constantly under surveillance. These contestants, or Islanders as they are referred to, must couple up and stay coupled up throughout the show and occasionally complete various challenges assigned to them. To shake things up, new islanders will be added regularly to the show. The current Islanders can ditch their existing partners for the new ones. The goal of the game is to remain coupled up until the end of the season, the winning couple will receive a cash prize and possibly a new romantic prospect. The format was the same in both UK & U.S. shows, yet Uncle Sam’s version didn’t get the same traction as UK’s. In this post, we try to understand why.
The islanders are key to the success of the show. In the UK’s version, we had some very bold and outrageous islanders who ensured that there was a constant supply of drama and entertainment until the very end. They often played dirty, stepped on each other’s toes, and it was as raw as it could get. While the islanders on the U.S. Version were way more modest as compared to their British counterparts. They didn’t want to upset anyone, took a much safer and non-risky approach. In fact, there was a very strong bond between the OG islanders so much to the point that there was barely any drama. The little that we did get was almost towards the fag end of the series.
The UK version’s narrator Iain Stirling has a very strong fan-following for his sarcastic and often dark jokes on the show. Matthew Hoffman who is the narrator for the American version was quite bland initially, but over time, he found his zone and knocked the socks off with his very witty commentary on the situations playing out on our screen. Several fans used to complain about how boring Hoffman’s narration was as compared to Iain’s. While this cannot be a reason for the modest performance of the show amongst the American audience this could, however, have been better.
The American series had an 8 pm slot, so it had to be family-friendly content. So, a lot of the juicy stuff that we get to see in the UK version would never make the cut for American television.
Despite all these factors, CBS seems quite pleased with the performance of ‘Love Island’ and has already announced that it has been renewed for the second season. They have already begun the casting calls for the second season. Hopefully, the next season will be a lot more entertaining and give us more drama.