MediaWorks has scrapped its marquee TV production, Love Island NZ, as part of a range of company-wide cost-cutting measures including a staff hiring freeze.
A general staff email sent by MediaWorks chief executive Michael Anderson this week announced Love Island NZ would be taken out of the 2019 production schedule and the company will "look to do it in 2020".
Anderson also announced a freeze on staff recruitment for all "non-essential roles" across MediaWorks, as well as scrutiny on staff international travel in an effort to be "very mindful of our cost base".
"Love Island is a prized piece of content and given the challenges we are facing in the market this year, it does not make sense to schedule it into this environment," Anderson wrote in the email.
Inside reports from MediaWorks staff say they are still confident a New Zealand version of Love Island will work in a prime broadcasting slot such as 7pm or 8pm next year.
However, staff say the advertising market is so soft at the moment decent sponsors for the show cannot be found.
Nevertheless, the decision comes as Love Island UK, which has been aired on TV3 daily at 5pm since June 5, has been rating dismally compared to its direct competitors at TVNZ: The Chase and Home and Away.
During the week of July 1 to 5, Love Island UK drew an average audience of 11,600 viewers in the 25-54 age group, and 25,800 in the total viewing audience.
In comparison, The Chase which aired on TVNZ at the same 5pm slot trounced its competitor, with 99,600 average viewers in the 25-54 age group, and 418,300 in total viewing audience.
The mid-year email from Anderson also announced the company is "still operating in a particularly challenged market" and the "forecast is for this to continue".
"We need to be very mindful of our cost base and so from today we will be implementing the following," Anderson outlines.
These cost-cutting measures include a recruitment freeze on all non-essential roles including contractors and casual staff.
Staff with high annual leave balances can also "expect a conversation with your manager" Anderson writes.
The MediaWorks chief executive also announced "all international travel will be reviewed and is now subject to my approval" and "all other discretionary spend is being reviewed".
MediaWorks released an additional statement to the Herald reassuring such cost-cutting measures were not unusual in the current climate for media companies.
"Like all media companies globally, it is very much business as usual to be mindful of costs and to be efficient where we can," the statement said.
"Our decision to take the NZ [Love Island] version out of 2019 is due to the challenging advertising market and wanting the best for the format."
MediaWorks also pointed out that the UK version of Love Island was "doing huge numbers" on their online streaming platform ThreeNow, with 4.9 million streams to date.
When MediaWorks purchased the global rights to Love Island back in March, chief content officer Andrew Szusterman said the programme had "been smashing records on air along with creating unprecedented social media hype and audience engagement".
"This show really is redefining the traditional television landscape, the likes of which New Zealand has not seen before and I'm really proud that yet again Three is leading the way in entertainment television by bringing it first to New Zealanders," Szusterman said.