Love Island, the well-received UK show that recently debuted in the US on CBS, ended up with surprisingly low ratings on the primetime spot. In the spot that CBS has used for The Amazing Race and Survivor, Love Island ended up having a lackluster first premiere episode.
Though new to the states, Love Island has become appointment television for reality television enthusiasts in the UK over the past few years. The show's cast and set are reminiscent of an MTV elimination dating show, like Are You The One? or Ex on the Beach, but it is expected to be a little less raunchy than its counterparts (and the UK version) due to it airing primetime on CBS. Still, its premise - namely, making newly acquainted couples sleep in the same bed on the first night - presents a risqué choice for network television. Not only is the premise of the show a little risqué, but Love Island is also competing in the 8pm time slot against well-established America’s Got Talent on NBC and the MLB all-star game on Fox, and it's first few episodes didn't fare as well as expected in terms of viewers.
According to Variety, Love Island only drew 2.68 million total viewers, compared to the 10 million viewers that tuned in to America's Got Talent. However, with Love Island slated to air five nights a week this summer, there is plenty of room to build an audience. Though Tuesday's premiere teased the sexual tension and hookups that were likely to come, it was a fairly inconsequential episode, save for some forehead kissing in bed between 27-year-old Cashel Barnett and 21-year-old Caro Viehweg. Following introductions in which five men chose which of the five women they'd like to couple up with, the center of attention focused on a sixth woman, 22-year-old Kyra Green, who made a dramatic late entrance.
The episode ended on a cliffhanger right as Green was about to announce which person she wanted most. The most interesting part is that Green told 24-year-old Yamen Sanders, a fellow Islander and hopeful suitor, that she dated a woman for two years. With that in mind, every contestant is potentially on the table when she makes her choice on the next episode Love Island. There is the possibility that featuring bisexual cast members may bring a modern twist that will give Love Island a boost in ratings.
Love Island's greatest challenge in building a loyal audience likely won't be how much it shows (or doesn't show) once the lights turn off at night, but rather how much it can differentiate itself from the myriad of other elimination dating shows that have come and gone over the years. While the show prides itself on being modern and relatable to dating app culture, the way the show is structured, especially after the men and women coupled up, has yet to stand out from other reality shows of its ilk. It was a huge risk for CBS to pick up such a massive five-nights-a-week show and all that it entails, especially with the primetime spot being a more family-friendly audience. It remains to be seen if Love Island grows on viewers or if it remains to be a huge flop for CBS.
New episodes of Love Island air weeknights at 8pm on CBS.