Love Island ratings dip for winter series launch

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New host Laura Whitmore with 23-year-old Manchester scaffolder Callum

More than 2.5 million people tuned in for the launch of the first winter series of Love Island on Sunday – but that was 800,000 down on the figure for the opening of the last summer series.

Viewers saw 12 singletons enter a new sun-drenched three-storey villa in South Africa for the ITV2 reality show.

They also got their first glimpse of Laura Whitmore as host after she stepped in to replace Caroline Flack.

The overnight ratings count live viewing and don’t include catch-up.

Love Island launch shows

Overnight ratings by series

This is the first series to be screened outside the show’s usual summer slot. For the launch of last summer’s series, 3.3 million watched live. There will be another summer series later this year.

Sunday’s winter launch was watched by an average of 2.51 million viewers, according to the overnight ratings.

Those viewers saw five men and seven women, including identical twins, enter the villa in Cape Town. The first residents include Rochelle Humes’s sister Sophie, Lewis Capaldi’s ex-girlfriend Paige and Manchester policeman Mike.

As well as the new villa, one other big change was the new host. Flack had to step down last month after being charged with assault.

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Media captionLove Island: Inside the new villa in South Africa

Before the series got under way on Sunday, Flack sent Whitmore a good luck message. “Massive good luck to Laura, Iain [Stirling] and the team for tonight’s launch show…” she wrote on Instagram. “The first one always the best one.”

Former contestant Megan Barton-Hanson told BBC Breakfast she thought Whitmore “absolutely smashed it”.

And the presenter got a broadly positive reception from fans on social media.

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