“Love Island” — a British reality TV show that has become a cultural phenomenon — is heading to the United States.
CBS has bought the rights to make a United States version of the show, the network announced Wednesday. In the British series, which can seen on Hulu, a group of mainly twenty-somethings are thrown into a villa on a Spanish island for eight weeks. They are immediately forced to couple up, then, six nights a week, the program documents their relationship ups and downs. Viewers are able to vote couples off, and often influence the show’s direction via social media.
Last month, the fourth season’s finale drew some 3.8 million viewers in Britain, according to BARB, the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board — a huge amount for a program shown on a lesser-known network. Those viewers included almost half of all 16-to-34-year-olds watching television in its time slot, a coveted audience for advertisers
CBS has yet to confirm when or where the series will be filmed, or how often it will be broadcast, a spokesman said. But it is hoping to recreate the effect of the British series, which has sparked debate about issues like emotional abuse in relationships and smoking. Less seriously, it has also been blamed for the disappearance of male chest hair.
“‘Love Island’ is more than a pop sensation,” Sharon Vuong, CBS’s senior vice president for alternative programming, said in a statement. “This series has generated compelling sociological think pieces in major publications here and abroad.”
The program will be produced by ITV Entertainment, part of the same group that makes the British series, as well as versions for the Australian and German markets.
“It’s a cultural phenomenon that builds anticipation with every episode and creates appointment viewing — a pretty hard thing to do in today’s TV landscape,” said David George, chief executive for ITV America.
Despite the involvement of ITV, some “Love Island” fans have already expressed fears about whether an American version will have the same emotional rawness as the British show: