Strictly Come Dancing triumphed over The X Factor in the ratings on Saturday night as it launched to 8.8 million viewers.
The opener – which saw the celebrity contestants learn who their professional partners will be – attracted an average of 8.8 million viewers (44.7% share) and peaked at 9.5 million viewers, making it the most watched show of the day.
It marks a slight dip on last year’s launch when it drew a record 9.3 million – the biggest audience yet for its opening show – and a peak of 10.1 million, but an improvement on all other previous launch shows since they began in the current format in 2010.
Viewers saw soap star Gemma Atkinson thrilled to be paired with professional Aljaz Skorjanec in the pre-recorded programme, while This Morning’s Ruth Langsford was teamed with Anton Du Beke.
The show also featured a special dance tribute to former presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth, who died last month.
The 15th series of the ballroom dancing show, which consistently beat The X Factor in the ratings last year, goes live on September 23 on BBC One.
The X Factor drew an average of 5. 5 million viewers, including those watching on the ITV HD and ITV+1 channels.
The show peaked with 6.8 million watching.
Last week the show drew 6 million for its first episode on Saturday, its lowest for a launch since its first year on screen in 2004. There were 6.5 million viewers last Sunday.
Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor did not directly compete against each other on Saturday, with Strictly kicking off at 7pm and X Factor beginning at 8pm, but there was a 40 minute period of overlap.
The figures for both shows are likely to rise when the official consolidated ratings are published, which will include viewers who recorded the shows and watched up to seven days afterwards on catch-up.