‘X Factor’ series premiere down nearly 2 million viewers from last year

First episode of 12th series aired on Saturday (August 29)

TV viewing figures for The X Factor have fallen by almost 2 million from 2014.

The 12th series of the TV singing contest premiered on Saturday (August 29) with Simon Cowell (pictured above) and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini joined on the judging panel by new additions Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw.

However, overnight figures have shown that the opening episode only attracted 7.11 million viewers on ITV and an additional 536k on ITV+1. This compares to almost 9.5 million who watched the first episode of the 2014 series.

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Meanwhile, ITV’s director Peter Fincham has accused the BBC of playing a “game” whereby it deliberately schedules Strictly Come Dancing against The X Factor.

In recent years, Strictly Come Dancing has overtaken The X Factor in the ratings, and when the two shows overlap on Saturday night, the ITV show’s viewing figures tend to take a hit.

The new series of Strictly Come Dancing begins next Saturday (September 5), with the two shows set to overlap by 20 minutes.

“I don’t know why [the BBC] did that, but it feels a bit like, ‘Let’s try to see if we can clip The X Factor‘s wings’,” Fincham claimed during a panel at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

“This really matters to us, because we are a commercial business,” he added. “I know from my own time at the BBC that this is a bit of a game. All the evidence we have from our audiences is that they don’t want the two to overlap. It’s perfectly possible for them not to overlap.”

However, the BBC has denied intentionally scheduling its incredibly popular dance contest against The X Factor, with a spokesperson saying: “We always try to avoid clashes, but we schedule our programmes with licence fee payers in mind and they tell us they want high-quality entertainment at the heart of the Saturday night schedule.”

The BBC’s head of TV Danny Cohen has also brushed off any criticism, insisting: “These things happen all the time. We’ve noticed suddenly Emmerdale finds itself up against EastEnders with astonishing regularity.”