ITV Studios Develops Crush On Remote Production For ‘Love Island’

NEP Group
(Image credit: NEP Group)

PITTSBURGH—ITV Studios turned to technology partner NEP Group for end-to-end broadcast solutions to help it remotely produce editions of its hit reality series “Love Island”—one each for the U.K., the United States and Australia—directed in large measure by the realities of the pandemic.

NEP and ITV Studios navigated a slew of logistical demands for the fully remote production of “Love Island U.K.” With only three engineers and a handful of crew members on site with the contestants in Mallorca, Spain, the production team managed the entire production from the new NEP Production Centre at Gray’s Inn Road in London. 

Using NEP Connect’s Anylive network from London to manage robotic cameras in Mallorca, ITV directors operated as if they were actually at the villa where the show was set. NEP Connect also provided 64 video feeds to the London facility where a crew of 75 people produced the show from over a thousand miles away.

“Remote Editing and Short-Term Event (Sport) remote production is becoming quite common, however, in this instance we required a system design that would give us resilience and a 24/7 operation for over 60 days. NEP Group looked after the remote OB element, connectivity and offered us the ability to work out of a central London facility,” said Steve Kruger, head of technology and entertainment at ITV Studios. 

“We have always had a great relationship with NEP," he added. "They have worked on the show since the franchise was rebooted in 2015 and always produced the best end-to-end solution for us. This year was no exception. We were up against an extremely tough challenge, and they stepped up, delivering something truly innovative.” 

Between the season debut in early July and the season finale in late August, ITV successfully broadcast 58 episodes in a completely remote environment. Each episode turned around seamlessly to air just 30 hours after the action happened.

While Season 7 aired in the U.K., “Love Island USA” Season 3 was getting started in Hawaii. ITV America and NEP previously had worked together on Seasons 1 and 2 in Fiji and Las Vegas, but the third season required a new framework. 

Adequate space for crew and setup were hard to come by in Hawaii so ITV America partnered with NEP’s subsidiary brand, Bexel (opens in new tab), standing up a main control room gallery off site at the Grand Naniloa Hotel on the east side of the Big Island, about 20 miles away from the set. The tech base was set up about 2,500 feet from the main set, two miles away from the Casa Amore set. Transmission and editing were located 3,000 miles away at The Switch’s facility in Burbank, Calif. The show had only an 18-hour editing window.  

While not as distant as the U.K. production, the U.S. edition, which wrapped in mid-August, used 11 manned broadcast camera chains and 105 robotic and POV cameras. ITV America also housed logging facilities as far away as Sydney.

The U.S. team ultimately delivered over 50 hours of content to three different networks during the six-week shooting period.

Production of the show is just beginning in Australia. NEP has created a more traditional production setup for the ITV Studios team in Federal, Northern NSW, providing a broadcast compound on location with the entire production team on site with show contestants.  

NEP senior vice president of the Global Product Team Casper Choffat will deliver the opening keynote, Nov. 15 at 11:05 a.m. EST, during the TV Tech Summit. The event has opened online registration (opens in new tab).

More information about NEP Group is available on its website (opens in new tab).

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.