Love Island, the CBS show based on the steamy British format, is set to get a lot more saucy this season thanks to streaming.
Paramount+ is to air a raft of exclusive programming from the the youth-skewing dating series as the show, now in its third season, starts to make more sense for the ViacomCBS corporation.
The streamer will air 15 hours of Love Island content this year including an exclusive episode that is “too spicy to air on television”.
The show launches on CBS tonight, Wednesday July 7, with a 90-minute premiere and during its first week will air Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Then, the series will air Tuesdays through Fridays and Sundays for the remainder of the season.
Paramount+, meanwhile, will air Love Island: The Drop, starting on Sunday July 11, a weekly unfiltered look at special events in the villa, an exclusive episode each week airing on Mondays and Love Island: Laid Bare, a one-hour intimate look at moments from the show only a streaming service could air.
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This season the naughtiness moves to Hawaii. The first season was set in Fiji, and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the second season moved to Las Vegas.
David George, CEO of producer ITV America, tells Deadline that the location was up in the air until relatively last minute.
“When we started talking about season three, we thought maybe we should go back to Vegas again. But, Covid kind of screwed us because now that we’re coming out of the pandemic, Las Vegas didn’t have any available hotels for us, it’s no longer an abandoned zombie town,” he says.
The team looked at Fiji again but international travel was still a risk and Majorca, where ITV films the British version, is tricky because of the timezones, so they looked at where they could go within the United States. “The show is not something you can delay because of the production turn around, so we decided we had to look for something new, but we wanted to go tropical and give it more of the Love Island vibe,” he adds. “Hawaii came up as the best possible location, to make it not feel like it’s in the world of Covid.”
One of the biggest production challenges for the show is that each episode is essentially turned around in around 24/36 hours. The other is that the part of Hawaii that they’ve chosen is essentially not wired for television production. The last major production the area hosted was 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Hawaii Island Film Office commissioner Justin Finestone recently noted that the Love Island was spending “almost double” the $20M that Indy and crew spent on the island.
To equip themselves for production, they needed to sort out shipping routes and bring in their own generators. Because post-production is taking place in Los Angeles, they also needed to ensure that the fibre lines between Pacific Ocean outpost and California could withstand all the sexy singletons. “The show turnaround is so intense so if any of those fibre lines go down we can’t post the show and we miss air. The immediate nature of the show makes it difficult for us because there’s a whole new set of factors that we hadn’t come across.”
Having said all of this, the chaotic nature of couples cozying up is what makes the format. George adds that producers also take notice of what people are saying on social media to ensure that they’re capturing the conversations (and more) that the viewers are really interested in. “In a strange way, the at home viewers, probably do help with the production of the show and I think that’s a very unique element to this particular concept because all of that feedback is being read. If you know people are going crazy over one conversation, and they want to hear the follow up to that, you’re going to make sure the follow up to that is in the episode.”
Casa Amor, the devilish location where a new set of potential lovers are introduced, is returning for season three, which kicks off with 12 attractive contestants. “That’s a big thing for us to have creatively because it allows us to create a bigger dynamic within the show,” says George.
George is particularly bullish on the introduction of exclusive content on Paramount+. The show was popular on CBS All Access, but Paramount+ should help the show further. George says that he’s “very excited about the fact that streaming business is starting to come to Love Island”.
There were raised eyebrows when CBS won the show – it was a particularly competitive process coming at the height of the British version’s popularity on ITV2 – given the traditional demographic of the Eye. But the network wanted a show that would appeal to younger viewers and the new company-wide streaming structure ties into this.
“We’ve always seen this as a streamer-friendly show, a more consumable thing for audience, and the demographics are right. We’re seeing how CBS’ business model is aligning more with Love Island the deeper we get into it,” says George. “As they progress into the future of their business model and their strategy, it’s going to become more valuable to them as they need to age down and they need to get into a streaming world. For us, the linear ratings may not be great with CBS because the demographics are not going there but where CBS is going in the future, lines up more with where that Love Island demographic is. That’s why we’re so excited about where Paramount+ plays into the whole strategy.”
Back before CBS ordered a U.S. version of the format, MTV handed the show a 20-episode order that was overturned as a result of a management shakeup. Now, that CBS and MTV are corporate siblings, and ViacomCBS increases synergies across its channels, there’s even the potential for MTV to air Love Island content. “I just see what’s going on with the buying market and how content is now not just for one platform anymore, it’s literally for three or four platforms and Love Island is one of those brands that can jump from platform to platform if you have the right echo system and the ViacomCBS world is much more dynamic today than it was when CBS commissioned it a few years ago,” says George.
The next challenge? Finding a beautiful spot for a potential fourth season. “I’d love to find a single location to do the show from some day,” he adds.