X Factor 2014 ratings: Return of Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell attracts biggest debut since 2011

An average 9.5 million tuned in to watch the first episode of the tenth series

The X Factor attracted 9.5 million viewers last night, pulling in its biggest series debut audience in three years after the return of Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell to the judging panel.

The popular ITV talent show, now in its tenth year, attracted a peak audience of 10.6 million viewers to become the most-watched show on television on Saturday night by more than 4 million viewers, according to ITV.

The revived judging panel, which features Mel B, Cheryl Cole aka Fernandez-Versini, Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh, is expected to increase ratings following a decline in viewers in the past three years.

Last year, 9.2 million tuned in to watch the first episode of the series that went on to see Sam Bailey crowned winner, compared with 8.7 million in 2012.

 

An average 11.3 million tuned in to the first episode of The X Factor in 2011, the show’s biggest launch to date, which saw Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and Louis Walsh on the judging panel.

But the series has suffered a recent ratings slump, drawing its lowest finale ratings last year since 2005 with an average audience of 9.7 million.

Cowell last served as a judge on The X Factor in 2010, when the series premiered with 11.1 million viewers.

The series is set to go head-to-head with Strictly Come Dancing when the flagship BBC One entertainment show begins again on Sunday 7 September.

Read more: The X Factor 2014 review: Cheryl Cole sidelines Mel B
Simon Cowell blasts BBC over Strictly v X Factor schedule clash

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