‘Love Island Games’ EP on Harnessing Franchise’s Crossover Power: ‘How Can We Please Everyone?’

Simon Thomas walks TheWrap through taking a fan-centric approach to the Peacock spin-off

Love Island Games
"Love Island Games" (Credit: Mark Taylor/Peacock/ITV)

With 22 international iterations of “Love Island” taking the lead from the franchise’s U.K. flagship series, “Love Island USA” producer ITV Entertainment aimed to harness the property’s crossover potential among American audiences in its newest spin-off, “Love Island Games.”

“We knew we had a disparate audience in America,” ITV Entertainment president and “Love Island Games” EP Simon Thomas told TheWrap, pointing to the movement of “Love Island USA” from CBS to Peacock. “There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of crossover, in that there’s a lot of American fans who just discovered the American show and didn’t know or care about the U.K. show — and then there’s hardcore American fans of the U.K. show and the Australian show.”

Taking the same fan-centric approach the franchise has embraced through its six-days-per-week release schedule, ITV Entertainment, which is one of ITV America’s six production labels, sought to find an “authentic way of servicing every one of those people at once.”

“We were like, ‘How can we please everyone?,’ which, of course, is the most impossible thing in the world. We’ll never please everyone. But we knew what we wanted — we were fans [and] we watch all the different versions. So we just tried that,” Thomas said.

“Love Island Games,” now streaming on Peacock, welcomes former islanders from across the franchise — including the U.S., U.K., Australia and France — to partake in a summer full of romance. Except this time, challenges dictate “everything,” from who islanders couple up with to whether they stay in the villa.

With “Love Island USA” recently moving from CBS, the producers thought back to the network’s strategy-based competition shows and began adapting how the series might be able to maintain its magic while incorporating a new element.

“If ‘Love Island’ is a classically U.K. format, but it was translated really well, how do we inject what we would consider classically American competition sensibilities without ruining the thing that makes ‘Love Island’ ‘Love Island’?” Thomas posed.

Tina Provis, Carrington Rodriguez, Steph Blackos, Imani Wheeler, Maya Jama, Courtney Boerner, Mike Boateng and Jessica Losurdo on “Love Island Games” (Mark Taylor/Peacock/ITV)

Rather than relying on the games to entice viewers, the EPs hoped to play with the idea of strategy in the new spin-off series by taking away the original show’s fan vote. With that element stripped away, islanders were encouraged to be more openly strategic in their partnership in hopes of taking home the $100,000 prize.

“When we first started making the show, we were nervous that they would come in and over focus on that — when we were iterating the game, we were 100% uncertain that we had that right,” Thomas said. “We were worried that they would come in and they wouldn’t want to play it for love.”

Instead, as islanders arrived to the villa, the question of “for love or for money” drove a handful of initial conversations as the contestants sought out potential partnerships.

“Some of them had won, split the money with other people and then broken up, so coming into this environment was a different sort of moneyball for them,” Thomas said. “The challenges became the device that drove the human drama in ‘Games,’ rather than just [wanting] to see more challenges in ‘Games.’”

While the ethos of bringing former islanders together is similar to that of “Love Island All Stars,” which has been confirmed to debut in early 2024 through ITV Studio’s Lifted Entertainment and GroupM Motion Entertainment, the idea for “Games” came together “independently” as the ITV Entertainment and Lifted work as two distinct production groups despite both being owned by ITV Studios.

Thomas said the companies “all have slightly different desires,” pointing to Lifted’s recent strategy to produce two seasons of “Love Island” in one year. “We knew that if we were going to do that here, we wanted to approach that slightly differently, just because of the nature of the market.”

With participants from across the globe, Thomas noted that some islanders might recognize their peers’ international fame, while others might not even have access to a specific country’s iteration.

“You worry about that dynamic, and frankly, it didn’t matter,” Thomas said, pointing to a recent premiere event during which the multinational group of friends reunited and partied together. “We were nervous, but it couldn’t have gone any better.”

“Love Island Games” is streaming on Peacock.


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