X Factor's first live shows draws in over 1m more viewers than last year... but Strictly STILL wins ratings war
It seems like the X Factor shake-up has paid off for Simon Cowell, after it was revealed on Sunday that the first live show drew in more viewers than 2015.
With a peak performance at 7.2 million viewers - compared to last year's 5.6 million - the X Factor was the most-watched show on ITV, but Strictly Come Dancing still won the Saturday night ratings war, overall.
The BBC's rival entertainment programme was broadcast in an earlier time slot and drew in more than three million more viewers.
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Big production: Even though a shake up had seen an improvement on The X Factor for the first live show on Saturday night, Strictly Come Dancing still won the ratings war
With an average of 6.2 million viewers, X Factor achieved an audience share of 29% when it aired at 8pm, while Strictly was watched by 9.6 million with a 44.8% share.
There was a slight overlap in programming, with Strictly starting at 6.45pm and finishing at 8.50pm as the celebrity dancers completed their Movie Week routines.
The current series of ITV's flagship entertainment show has seen viewing numbers rise from its first episode.
Winner, winner: Strictly Come Dancing's Ed Balls put on one of the best shows of the night, helping the BBC One programme to an audience of 9.6 million
Success: Wannabe rapper, 35, Honey G closed the first live show with a rendition of Tupac's California Love which Simon Cowell admitted he 'loved'
Fire-starter: Flanked by a troupe of male dancers, she was also fanned by pyrotechnic props
Judge Cowell changed the panel line-up to include old favourites Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, and long-running presenter Dermot O'Leary also returned after a year away.
Last year, Caroline Flack presented alongside Olly Murs, while Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw joined the panel with returning judge Cheryl.
The first X Factor live episode saw Brooks Way absent from the stage, after one of the group was accused of sending threatening messages to an ex-girlfriend, according to reports.
Awkward! Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell now make up the panel
The main man: Simon looked to have enjoyed his return to the live arena, exiting with a cigarette and bottle of beer in hand
Legs for days: Nicole Scherzinger, 38, emerged from ITV studios following the first live X Factor show looking great in figure-hugging white top and leather miniskirt
The twins, Kyle and Josh Brooks, both 17, were due to perform as part of Walsh's groups category alongside the other final 11 acts.
But their performance was pulled after a tip was 'given to the show regarding one of the group'.
That didn't seem to shake big boss Simon, who emerged from Fountain Studios with his fingers crossed.
Feeling happy: Contestants Matt Terry and Freddy Parker looked exhausted
Holding hands: X Factor lovebirds Emily Middlemas and Ryan Lawrie were seen holding hands as they left later that night
No sweat: Ottavio was still feeling sprightly on the way home after a vivacious performance
Heading home: Honey G's was one of the most talked about performance of the night
That evening, host Dermot skimmed over the absence of one of Louis' acts, and a spokesperson confirmed that only 11 acts would continue in the competition.
On Saturday night, judge Nicole made an eye-catching return to the live X Factor shows in a stunning black and gold gown.
When she emerged from ITV studios hours later she looked in fine spirits after a successful first live show as she waved to the paparazzi on her way to her car.
A job well done: The former Pussycat Doll looked in fine spirits after a successful first live show as she waved to the paparazzi on her way to her car
Age-defying: Sharon looked much younger than her 63 years
Panel matriarch: Sharon's eccentric behaviour during the show didn't go unnoticed by fans, but the no-nonsense star looked relaxed as she left in a stylish black coat
Having a blast: Looking relaxed, he wore his white shirt unbuttoned and untucked, and produced a beaming grin
Sharon's eccentric behaviour during the show didn't go unnoticed by fans, but the no-nonsense star looked relaxed as she left in a stylish black coat.
Dermot was his usual cheery self as he left in a casual ensemble carrying a holdall and a bouquet of flowers.
Rylan Clark-Neal looked to be full of beans as he bound through the night in a white shirt and black trousers.
X Factor regular: Simon's ever-present pal Sinitta also emerged clutching her cute pet pooch while wearing a denim minidress and opaque black tights
Chirpy: Dermot O'Leary was his usual cheery self as he left in a casual ensemble carrying a holdall and a bouquet of flowers
Dapper: Rylan Clark-Neal looked to be full of beans as he bound through the night in a white shirt and black trousers
Following the judges and presenters were the acts, with an excited-looking Matt Terry and Freddy Parker leading the way beside Gifty Louise.
Earlier in the night, Boyband trio 5 After Midnight kicked-off the show to high praise - with Nicole responding flirtatiously.
Singing and dancing in a provocative manner, she nearly fell out of her revealing dress which was designed to show off her cleavage.
Anticipating the wardrobe malfunction, Sharon covered Nicole's chest with her hands, which left both red-faced.
Clarifying her intention, Sharon said: 'I'm covering her breasts in case they fall out!'
What an experience: Following the judges and presenters were the acts, with an excited-looking Matt Terry and Freddy Parker leading the way beside Gifty Louise
Adrenaline rush: The acts were no doubt on a massive high from their live performances
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