Almost a third of the country tuned in to watch Love Island Malta on Sunday, according to figures provided by the Public Broadcasting Service.  

Of the reality show's 160,000 viewers, 16,000 streamed it through Television Malta’s streaming platform while 144,000 watched the show on TV.  

An exceptionally high online viewership meant that TVMi, TVM’s streaming platform, crashed for some time due to an overload of users.  

Love Island Malta is the local iteration of the UK-led reality TV franchise and sees contestants live together in a villa and paired up as couples, as they seek to find love - while being constantly monitored. 

The show airs four nights a week at 10 pm between Monday and Thursday and at 9 pm on Sunday. As new contestants are brought in, others are eliminated if they fail to recouple or couple up with new contestants.  

The viewership figures suggest the show's premiere was a striking success for the national broadcaster, more than doubling the roughly 65,000 people that usually tune in to TVM at 9pm on a Sunday, according to the Broadcasting Authority's June 2022 audience survey

But Love Island is not without controversy: its producers were forced to ask online commenters to "be kind" after contestants received a slew of insults before the show had even aired. 

And on Sunday, some criticised TVM for having included the show in its schedule.  

Former One media group chairman and Labour secretary-general Jason Micallef said the show is “empty, low and without scope”.  

In comments to Times of Malta, Micallef said he worked for 16 years at the national broadcaster as a producer and believes it should have higher standards.  

“I believe everyone has a right to enjoy their tastes, but I do not believe that the national broadcaster should stoop down to the level of a commercial station,” he said. 

“That is why it is called the National Broadcaster, and I was disappointed that Love Island was aired on it.” 

He said he believes such programmes should be aired and produced for commercial stations, something he said, is practised across Europe. 

“Malta should not be the exception.” 

The UK Love Island programme is broadcasted on the British ITV television network, and not on the national broadcaster of the UK- the BBC. 

Lawyer and former MP Jason Azzopardi agreed with his namesake, writing on Facebook that the show is "trash" and asking if national broadcasters such as the BBC or Deutsche Welle would ever air it. 

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici thought differently, saying the show has attracted huge interest among younger viewers.  

“I noticed a diverse number of people who enjoyed the show, and others who did not, of course. But the younger generation showed a greater interest,” he said. 

“I believe the national broadcasting service should showcase the tastes of everyone, therefore the tastes of different generations, and I believe Love Island is a production which goes down well with a younger generation, but also others.” 

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