The group chat is buzzing. Your Facebook notifications are awash with ‘X’ mentioned you in a comment. You can’t @ your friend on Instagram fast enough. In #Summer2017 this is indicative of one thing and one thing only: it’s 9pm on a weeknight.
The ITV2 reality show, which airs this season’s undoubtedly dramatic finale later on this month, has endured overwhelming success, smashing viewership from previous reality don Big Brother out of the park, with an audience of nearly 3 million.
Though my middle-aged co-workers have admitted their membership of the 3 million, it will come as no surprise that the vast majority of them are young people, and not just any old young people; hashtag-using, latte-drinking, avocado-eating, instagram-posting, meme-loving millennials.
smashing viewership from previous reality don Big Brother out of the park
And don’t ITV know it. If your personal investment in the show has led you to download the app, you’ll recognise how the broadcaster has capitalised on the audience demographic. Laid out like a standard social media feed, the official Love Island app borrows elements from every successful app from the last 10 years to regurgitate highlights as well as being the only way viewers can vote in polls which directly affect the Islanders. Users are able to ‘react’ a la Facebook to clips and stills, or swipe right or left on contenders a la Tinder.
To save being rendered utterly useless, the feed is in real time as they know millennials are more than capable of watching T.V. whilst simultaneously using at least four other apps. Were it not, the app would lose out on social media engagement to the cross-platform fan accounts which fuel the Love Island discourse more than the office kitchen. Though a quick search brings up dozens of non-official pages like ‘Love Island Memes’ and ‘Love Island Banter’, no page has so single-handedly dominated news feeds across the country for weeks on end as much as ‘Love Island Reactions’.
a modern television show is no longer just a television show but a cross-media, multi-platform presence
Boasting 184k followers on Instagram, 24k followers on Twitter, and 630k likes on Facebook, Love Island Reactions have successfully united the entire Love Island viewership by posting caps of tweets and audience-made memes, earning them follows, likes, and comments from not only ITV2 but many of the Islanders themselves.
The success of Love Island Reactions reflects how a modern television show is no longer just a television show but a cross-media, multi-platform presence which both demands and thrives off viewer/user-generated discussion. In an age where people’s day to day lives are chaptered by social media, a topic such as a T.V. show cannot maintain such a consistent online presence without generating increased viewership. Put simply, if you don’t watch it you’ll feel left out. This is precisely why ITV have made all the episodes from this season available on their catch-up website the ITV Hub, so that people who are fed up with being out of the loop can catch up.
this inability for us to go for more than a few hours without checking our phones is what keeps us coming back to our sofas every night
Brilliantly, this social media presence is also why once you start, you can’t stop. Your Facebook friends don’t care if you haven’t seen the last episode when there’s a brand new meme to tag the members of their exclusive Love Island group chat in. This inability for us to go for more than a few hours without checking our phones is what keeps us coming back to our sofas every night at 9pm, for fear of accidentally scrolling upon a spoiler. The question is, what will we do when it ends?
Image: Love Island, ITV Press Centre 2017