‘X Factor’ ratings rise to series high in absence of rival ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ from TV schedule

ITV series benefited from lack of competition last night

Ratings on The X Factor rose to a new high for the current series last night, though the absence of rival Strictly Come Dancing may have been a deciding factor in this.

The latest round of auditions were aired on ITV last night (September 12) and gained 7.55 million viewers, a 36.5 per cent audience share according to BARB. A further 359k tuned in an hour later on ITV’s catch up service. Last year’s corresponding episode, broadcast on on September 13, 2014 managed 8.9 million viewers.

Unlike the previous week when Strictly gained 2 million viewers more than ‘X Factor’, the BBC dancing series was off air. It will return to screens on Friday, September 25.

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

ITV director Peter Fincham recently 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.

“This really matters to us, because we are a commercial business,” he said. “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.”