Love Island sees ratings drop at first winter series launch

Katie Archer

Love Island launched its first winter series last night to a muted response from fans, with 800,000 fewer people tuning in than for the most recent summer run.

The dating reality show began on ITV2 with its first visit to South Africa in search of winter sun and was watched by 2.51 million - down from the 3.3 million who made sure to see the launch of summer 2019’s series.

Read more: Ellie Brown “practically starved” herself before entering villa

Ratings only take into account those watching a show live, without adding in catch-up viewer figures.

There will be a second series airing later this year in the usual summer slot, which sees contestants set up home at a villa in Majorca.

Love Island’s big difference this series is that it saw Laura Whitmore step in as host, after Caroline Flack was charged with assault at the end of 2019 and had to quit her role presenting the show.

However, there were no hard feelings from Flack, who sent a message of support on social media to Whitmore and her boyfriend the comedian Iain Stirling, who was back in his role narrating the series.

The launch episode introduced the starting 12 singles, who include Rochelle Humes’ younger sister Sophie, Lewis Capaldi’s ex-girlfriend Paige, and the first ever identical twins to take part, Eve and Jess.

Controversy has already hit the contestants as Ollie was exposed as a big game hunter in his spare time, and Connor was criticised by viewers for snapping at Sophie.

Read more: Maura Higgins was struggling to keep a roof over her head before Love Island

In the first episode, the singles are coupled up at first sight, but over the course of the series viewers will see them given the opportunity to recouple if they decide they prefer another contestant or meet a newly introduced single as bombshell contestants are dropped into the villa.

The summer series was won by Amber Gill and Greg O’Shea, who split shortly after the programme ended.