The World Cup versus Love Island – what’s winning at summer?

Sophie Coley

July 6, 2018

If you’d failed to notice the giant ball of fire in the sky that has been gracing us with its presence lately, then let me make it clear: summer has finally arrived here in England! And while many of us have been making the most of the heat and flocking to the seaside (lunches on the beach are just the best) and various parks to catch some rays, there’s also been a real temptation to stay indoors. Again, if you weren’t aware (seriously, where have you been?!), there are two huge cultural events keeping many of us glued to our screens despite the glorious weather; the World Cup and Love Island.


You might have spotted some analysis I’ve done around Love Island already (have a read if you missed it!) but being as big a fan of football as I am trashy TV, I thought it’d be interesting to take a step back and see how ITV2’s summer hit compares to probably the world’s biggest sporting event. I want to know, what’s winning at summer: Love Island or the World Cup? To find the answer, I’ve analysed Twitter conversations in the UK, from the start of June up to today.


Love Island launched on June 4th while the World Cup kicked off on June 14th. Since then, up to today – July 6th – there have been almost 7 million tweets mentioning one of the two events or an associated hashtag. The World Cup wins in term of share of mentions; but only just!




It gets more interesting if we look at the same period day-by-day:

Love Island and World Cup UK Tweets since June 4th



What does this graph tell us?


  1. Unsurprisingly, England making it through to the quarter finals of the World Cup, by winning a penalty shootout, has been the biggest conversation driver in the context of Love Island and the World Cup so far this summer.

I’d have eaten my hat if this wasn’t the case; the game had all the ingredients to make it prime social fodder with high-stakes, dirty gameplay, controversial refereeing, a penalty in regular time, a last-minute comeback, extra time and a penalty shootout. Oh, and an England win!

  1. But, Love Island launching was almost as big a conversation-driver as one of the most epic and significant England football games, ever.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. Despite Love Island conversation rarely overtaking that of the World Cup since it kicked off, the ITV2 show’s launch night drove more than 220,000 Tweets, while the dramatic England game on July 3rd drove almost 260,000 Tweets. Looking at the bigger picture, that’s huge; only (roughly) a 40,000 difference in volume.

  1. And England losing doesn’t inspire much social conversation. In fact, Germany being knocked out drove more

It was very interesting to see the social reaction to England losing to Belgium on June 28th. Although it was a moot game; we were through to the next round regardless of the result, it drove relatively little conversation. In fact, there were more Tweets about the World Cup the day before; when Germany were knocked out after losing to South Korea. Apparantly we like to gloat!


  1. Only two Love Island dramas have caused enough outrage to see Love Island conversation outweigh World Cup conversation: Megan stealing Wes and Josh ditching Georgia.

As I’ve said, since the first game kicked off, World Cup conversation has typically drowned out Love Island chat on Twitter, at least in terms of volume. But two of the series’ most controversial moments have seen Love Island take the lead. And it’s not even that those events took place on quiet days for the World Cup; Megan poaching Wes took place on the same day that Germany were knocked out!


What else is significant?


Reality TV is a much bigger driver of dual screening than live football.

You can see the stark difference in viewing and Tweeting habits; with Love Island viewers actively tweeting throughout the show with some consistency and football viewers seemingly too engrossed in the on-screen antics to pick up their phone and Tweet for much of the game. That said, Harry Kane’s goal at 8.19pm drove a spike in Tweets, as did Colombia’s equaliser at 8.55pm and then the game going to penalties at 9.40pm. Unsurprisingly, England eventually winning drove the biggest spike of all.


Here’s a view of Tweets, by the minute, during the launch of Love Island (the graph shows activity from 9pm to 11pm and the launch show ran from 9pm to 10.30pm) compared to the England vs Colombia game (again, the graph shows activity from 7pm to 10pm and the game started at 7pm, finishing – eventually – at 9.51pm when Eric Dier scored the final penalty):


Love Island tweets, minute-by-minute, on launch night


World Cup tweets, minute-by-minute, on launch night


Where’s the Wimbledon love?

Finally, spare a thought for Wimbledon; an iconic, British sporting event, no doubt – but drowned out, at least in terms of social conversation this year, by the World Cup and Love Island, even now it’s in full swing:

Tweets referencing Love Island, the World Cup and Wimbledon, day-by-day, since June 1st 2018


Data source throughout: Brandwatch


Methodology: We analysed all tweets containing ‘love island’, ‘world cup’, ‘wimbledon’ or any of the following hashtags: #worldcup, #fifaworldcup, #worldcup2018, #fifaworldcup2018, #worldcup18, #lovesland, #loveisland2018, #wimbledon or #wimbledon2018, in the UK from June 1st to July 16th.

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