Strictly Come Dancing launch beats X Factor ratings as entertainment shows go head to head

The dancing show attracted almost half a million more viewers than X Factor

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Strictly Come Dancing beat X Factor in the ratings war last night as the flagship BBC entertainment show returned for its twelfth year.

The Strictly launch show attracted 8.4 million viewers on BBC One, compared with the 7.8 million people who tuned it to watch the fourth episode of X Factor auditions.

The Strictly launch is one of its most successful to date, pulling in as many viewers as its debut last year and beating 2012’s launch, watched by 8 million people.

X Factor received its highest launch figures in three years when it premiered last Saturday, pulling in 9.5 million viewers thanks to the return of judges Cheryl Cole, aka Fernandez-Versini, and Simon Cowell.


The two Saturday night entertainment shows have long been scheduled at the same time, sparking a ratings war between BBC One and ITV.

Earlier this month, Simon Cowell accused the BBC of betraying its public service obligations by aggressively scheduling the return to Strictly in a head-to-head clash with The X Factor.

Cowell said the BBC had broken a “gentlemen’s agreement” by provoking a ratings battle between the two shows.

Video: Strictly Come Dancing launch party

Strictly has overtaken X Factor in the ratings war during Cowell’s absence from the ITV show, with 12.8 million tuning in to watch the Strictly finale last year, compared with 9.5 million for The X Factor’s final show.