‘Love Island’ returns with record viewers despite recent controversy

The fifth series of ITV2’s Love Island has launched with 3.3m viewers — its most-watched launch to date — despite recent controversy surrounding the programme.

The hit format, in which singles are coupled up in a villa in Mallorca for eight weeks, won the 9pm slot with a 18.5% share and peaked with 3.7m — up 10% on the 2.9m (16.4%) who tuned into the series four launch last June.

A peak of 488,000 people watched the simulcast live on ITV’s catch-up service, ITV Hub.

For comparison, series three debuted in 2017 with 1.3m (6.5%); series two with 825,000 (4.4%); and the debut series with 597,000 (3%).

According to ITV, Love Island is the most watched programme for 16-24s on TV in the UK so far this year, with 622,000 16-24 year-old viewers tuning in, and capturing a 59% share of 16-24 year-old viewing.

The launch show had a 57% share of 16-34 year-old viewing, and 1.6m 16-34 year-old viewers.

It garnered a peak audience of 4.2m across all devices, according to an ITV spokesperson.

Love Island returned amid ongoing concerns around its duty of care practices. The show’s aftercare procedures have come under intense scrutiny following the deaths of two former contestants across an eight-month period, and prompting producers to instate key changes to pre-filming, filming and aftercare.

The show garnered widespread calls for cancellation after the death of a guest on ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show, who committed suicide a week after appearing on the daytime show, where he underwent a lie detector test.

This year’s edition of Love Island, which airs six nights a week until the end of July, could be make-or-break for the UK format, whose production and various challenges — which previously included a stressful lie detector test — will be watched closely.

Overall, the format has been commissioned in 12 markets outside the UK, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Hungary and the Nordics.

The highly anticipated US version of the show will launch on CBS later this summer.