DIY and cooking shows runners-up for our affections.

Reality TV shows about love, dating and sex are quickly becoming some of our favourites with millions of Kiwis tuning in to get their fix.

And apparently our "love of love" is behind the trend.

The Bachelor, Married at First Sight and Love Island are among the most popular series in this genre, data from New Zealand's two main free-to-air broadcasters TVNZ and Mediaworks shows.


The first Kiwi edition of Married at First Sight is due on screen later this year, while the popularity of British dating show Love Island has seen it fast-tracked to Kiwi TV screens.

The latest season of Love Island was a hit in the UK when it aired - its final episode became ITV2's highest rated in the channel's history - and has been streamed more than 950,000 times on TVNZ's OnDemand streaming service since late June.

Due to its popularity with online audiences the show, which sees contestants live in a villa in Mallorca, will be screened on TVNZ 2 every weekday at 9.30pm from August 14.

Cate Slater, director of content at TVNZ, said Love Island was one of the most watched shows on OnDemand, second only to Shortland Street which had 1.3 million streams, and she expected even more people would watch it when it aired on TV.

Kiwi reality TV fans have also loved the new US version of The Bachelorette, streaming it more than 878,000 times on TVNZ OnDemand.

More than 2.1 million Kiwis tuned into the third season of The Bachelor New Zealand when it aired on Mediaworks' Three earlier this year.

Married at First Sight Australia was also one of the broadcaster's top performing programmes during the first half of this year with 1.1 million viewers aged 25 to 54 watching it, chief content officer Andrew Szusterman said.

Slater said programmes about people looking for love were popular because they resonated with viewers.

"Finding love is a relatable and emotional subject for everyone, so when that's brought to life on screen with brilliant storytelling and casting, it's an easy and highly enjoyable watch."

University of Auckland academic Misha Kavka, who has studied and consumed reality TV extensively, said shows like The Bachelor and Love Island were attractive to audiences because they allowed them to observe someone else's love life and reflect on their own.

"We've all been there, you know, some in more and less successful versions. We all look back on the less successful versions wondering at what point should I have read the signs?"

They'd been popular in the US since the late 1990s (their first series of The Bachelor aired in 2002) but reality shows about dating and love had only risen in popularity in New Zealand and the UK since about 2010, she said.

Previously, we'd favoured programmes about DIY and cooking, when it came to reality TV.

"It's a little bit like we're quite slow in getting the American interest in sex. We finally got there. We begin to see the appeal.

"I think it has a lot to do with changing attitudes to sexuality and changing attitudes to the appropriateness of talking about relationships. Fifteen years ago these were not things that New Zealanders were good at talking to each other about."

Social media and the culture it encouraged of sharing the intimacies of our daily lives had likely contributed to the shift in attitudes around sex, Kavka said.

"We're much more used now to living out private things on more public platforms.

"You don't want to just discuss your relationship in the bar with two or three close friends, you really put it out there now. We're willing to put our sex life on the screen, basically, put our relationship on the screen."

It must be love
The Bachelor NZ: Season 3 was on Three and Three Now earlier this year
Love Island: Season 3 box set is on TVNZ OnDemand now (new episodes daily at midday) and on TVNZ 2 at 9.30pm every weekday from August 14
The Bachelorette US: Streamed on TVNZ OnDemand during May, June, July and the start of August. Last two episodes can still be viewed.
First Dates Australia: New episodes on TVNZ 2 on Thursdays at 8.30pm and then available on TVNZ OnDemand
First Dates UK: Mondays at 11.30pm on TVNZ 2 and OnDemand
Married at First Sight US: All season 4 episodes available on Three Now
Married at First Sight New Zealand: Coming later this year to Three
First Dates New Zealand: Season 2 in production next month, then coming to TVNZ 2