Read time 2mInsights

The Cultural Relevance of Love Island

Airing in 2015 on ITV2, Love Island quickly became a cultural phenomenon. In 2019 the fifth series broke records, achieving a peak audience of 6 million viewers, which remains the most watched series to this day. However, with media consumption habits continuing to change, is ITV2’s flagship show doing enough to keep the audience engaged in 2024?

Whilst there is a clear decline in Love Island's viewing on linear TV, its viewership continues to be hugely popular on ITVX. Audiences, particularly younger demographics, are viewing more on-demand content than ever, embracing the flexibility to watch shows at their convenience. Many viewers now prefer to binge-watch series rather than follow a weekly or daily schedule.

It certainly remains hugely popular for advertisers. The show offers numerous advertising and sponsorship opportunities, which brands such as eBay have utilised in order to reach more of the younger-skewing audiences that Love Island attracts. However, as linear viewing audiences decline, could this diminish its appeal to advertisers?

The popularity and resonance of Love Island can also be shown by its huge online presence. Social media plays a significant role in how audiences engage with the show, allowing fans to follow updates, participate in discussions, and share content in real time. Viewers have stated on X that the show is still relevant as ‘It has become a part of British culture’ or because it's ‘relatable’. This demonstrates that while the live audience may have declined, fans remain highly engaged.

However, there have been viewers who believe a shift in tone and format could recapture the reality show’s glory days. A growing perception amongst viewers is that the show has shifted its focus from genuine romantic connections to the pursuit of fame and financial gain. This shift has likely alienated viewers, making it more challenging for them to relate to the couples on the show. This season has seen the inclusion of reality show veteran Joey Essex in the contestant lineup, a far cry from the original remit of the series, where contestants were genuine members of the public.

The 2023 season finale attracted 1.9 million viewers, a significant drop from the 3.6 million who tuned in for the 2019 finale. Whilst not dominating live viewing as it once did, audiences remain strong for a programme that is now airing its 11th season. For advertisers, it is clear that Love Island is not immune to changing media consumption habits, as viewers continue to migrate to on-demand platforms. While Love Island still holds cultural significance and the opportunity for valuable exposure, brands may need to begin diversifying their advertising efforts across different media platforms to maintain reach.