The number of viewers watching the opening episode of this year’s X Factor series has fallen by well over one million, in comparison to last year, BBC reports. Overnight viewing figures revealed an average of 7.6 million tuned in to watch the 12th series launch, with new judges Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw. The show dominated Saturday night TV, with nearly 40% of viewers tuning in.
An average of 8.9 million people watched the opening episode on the same weekend last year. Last year, the talent show faced competition from BBC One’s Doctor Who, with the newly arrived Peter Capaldi. This year, it was scheduled opposite the National Lottery: Five Star Family Reunion and Casualty, which achieved audience figures of 2.7 million and 4.1 million respectively.
Figures show that the number of X Factor viewers peaked at 7.9 million, with a 39.9% share of the available audience – not including +1 figures which have yet to be released. The downturn in viewing numbers may come as a blow to judge Simon Cowell, who has been busy promoting his new line-up of judges, as well as presenters Olly Murs and Caroline Flack. X Factor has been given a thorough shake-up after ratings for last year’s final dipped to a 10-year low. An average audience of 9.1 million tuned in to see Croydon’s Ben Haenow win the contest, the lowest since Steve Brookstein’s victory in 2004.
Speaking ahead of this year’s launch show, Cowell, 55, said the X Factor could easily beat BBC One rival Strictly Come Dancing in the ratings war, when that show begins. “I’d hate to say yes, because I know what will happen if I say yes – it will come back and haunt me,” he said. “This show does feel better, the talent’s great, they’re interesting, so if it’s us versus [Strictly contestant] Peter Andre, I’m going to put my money on us.”
Next week will see the two Saturday night stalwarts go head to head with the return of Strictly Come Dancing – however, there will initially be only a 20-minute overlap. Strictly – which sees the 15 celebrities introduced to their professional partners – will run from 19:15 to 20:35 BST, while the X Factor runs from 20:15 to 21:30 BST.