Love Island Australia is a “blueprint” for how Channel Nine can reach the desirable 16-39 age demo, according to the network's program director Hamish Turner.
Having a cross-platform national audience average of 510,000, 20 episodes with more than 200,000 online views, and in some cases, episodes recording more than 60% of their combined overnight/broadcast video on demand (BVOD) audience via digital, Turner says Nine is thrilled with the winning new-age format.
The demand has even been so strong, that Ireland has picked up the show to run on its 'TV3' channel, with Turner confident the show will make its way to England.
But why such a big hit? On paper, the show appears completely different from the traditional reality show structure. It's not filmed in Australia, doesn’t appear on a main channel and relies heavily on BVOD and catch-up viewing.
“Love Island Australia is unlike anything we’ve seen on Australian free-to-air television to date, in that it targeted an audience of millennials and gave them the choice about when and what platform they wanted to watch it on," Turner says.
While the show has proven to be a success in ratings and across the Australian media, for Nine, Turner says it's provided the network with something even more valuable – a longer term broader view of how best to play in the content space.
"This is a 'blueprint' for how we can get that young 16-39 demo and how we can increase the number of eyeballs across our ecosystem, then monetise that fully," Turner says.
"We understood that going after a younger demo specifically meant that their consumption pattern was going to be something that had a difference compared to programming we commissioned for the main channel."
Turner says the network wasn't overly surprised with the multichannel ratings, which fluctuated between 150,000 and 240,000 metro viewers across the series, but was "blown away" by the digital engagement.
Love Island's debut episode now has a split of 206,000 viewers on 9Go and 306,000 video player measurement (VPM) views on 9Now.
Nine also experimented with YouTube, posting short-form videos on the platform which, over the course of the series, built a subscriber base of 180,000 and generated 150m views.
The 'Who matched with who?' video and the 'Erin walks in on Grant and Tayla having sex' clip, both have over two million views on YouTube, with countless other "snackable" clips notching up more than 1.5m views.
While beneficial at reaching an extended audience and driving interest both here and abroad, Turner says YouTube does not currently provide a commercialisation opportunity that recognises the value of Nine's premium content.
"We wanted to go down that path of achieving further commercialisation with YouTube and show the company the power of this professionally generated content, however, the price that we get for that needed to be reflected with the quality of the content," he says.
"My belief is it is the future, so we need to work out how we do that and how we get a fully franked return on that audience."
A significant amount of the YouTube viewers were generated from international audiences, particularly in the UK, where the show originates from.
Turner adds that the platform will be the future of international distribution of content such as Love Island.
"We didn't expect it to go the way it did internationally," Turner says.
"We had the expectation that we would build it slowly but the pace in which people were consuming that content in that environment [YouTube] was unexpected, as we said, we haven't fully monetised that in that space so it's a challenge but also an exciting process."
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