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.
Overnight viewing figures of The X Factor 2015 UK, which is being aired on ITV1, revealed that an average of 7.6 million tuned in to watch the 12th series launch of X Factor, 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. However, 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. The 12th series’ debut aired at 8pm on ITV1 on Saturday, but despite little competition from rival channels the show scored a disappointing total of 7.11million (a 35.9% share of viewers), with a further 536k (2.9%) watching on +1.
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.
Cowell dropped long-standing judge Louis Walsh and last year’s Mel B and instead poached Rita Ora from her judging spot on The Voice, as well as enlisting her pal, Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has returned to the panel alongside Cowell, while long-term host Dermot O’Leary left, and was replaced by former Xtra Factor presenters Caroline Flack and Olly Murs.
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.
The last time the show opened to such low figures was in 2006 when Leona Lewis won. What’s remarkable is this is the first year Louis Walsh hasn’t appeared on the show.
The episode had a number of controversial points, including one contestant being put through who had previously blasted Cheryl Cole and the show.