We’ll admit it, we’ve fallen hard. Over the past seven weeks, the7stars has been powerless to escape the bronzed charms of ITV2’s Love Island, with mornings spent catching up on the night before and our graft occasionally interrupted by excited talk of the evening ahead.

We’re not the only ones. Love Island has been incredibly successful in bringing viewers, and particularly younger viewers, to ITV, with an average audience of 2.5m each night (1.1m live, 2.8m peak) – up a staggering 73% from last year. In fact, the reality dating show, which launched in 2015, has increased the number of 16-34s watching ITV by 86% year-on-year.

This all comes against the wider context that live TV viewing among younger audiences has, on paper, dropped 11% over the last three years. The medium still accounts for a not too muggy at all 56.4% (Thinkbox) of video viewing by 16-24s, but their viewing habits are fragmented across YouTube (15.6%), Facebook (2.5%) and other digital platforms, making them a hard audience to engage.

Love Island has been able to buck the trend not just through its connection with younger viewers but, in particular, through its digital presence. A third of all viewing came from the ITV Hub, the broadcaster’s on-demand service that now counts 75% of all the UK’s 16-24s among its registered users. The show also demonstrated how to successfully capitalise on the 87% of 16-34s who use a mobile device while watching TV (IAB.com): Twitter lit up with 2.5m tweets during the show’s 9-10PM slot, and the app (downloaded 1.48m times) was in constant use, driven by prompts in all ad breaks and the use of voting mechanics.

In a huge win for headline sponsor Superdrug, mobile searches for fake tan and sun cream jumped 12%, and the retailer saw a whopping 900% increase in searches for its brand. The halo effect also profited related brands with no commercial ties to the show: Boots saw a 300% uplift in searches and Ray-Ban and Match.com both reported increases of 35% (Captify). Even streams of Blazin’ Squad songs went up 2,500%.

The success of such sponsorship deals underlines the importance of matching the right brand with the right show, and of the potential benefits that can be reaped from well-planned product placement and brand integration – something we have seen first-hand through our hosting of Ministry of Sound parties in the villa for the last two years, which each time have helped to drive number one album sales.

So, while our Love Island love affair might be over for another year, the challenge for ITV’s incoming CEO Carolyn McCall is to ensure this summer romance continues to build into a beautiful relationship – for both its valuable audience and valued advertising partners.

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