Simon Cowell concedes defeat in Round 1 of Strictly v X Factor ratings battle

BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing launched with 1.5 million more viewers than The X Factor

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The results are in, both sides have traded blows, and Strictly Come Dancing has come out on top of The X Factor in the first round of the annual TV talent show ratings battle.

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An average of 8.43 million people (a 33% audience share) watched the launch of BBC1’s flagship entertainment series on Sunday night – 1.5 million more than the 6.98 million (28%) who tuned into The X Factor on ITV and ITV HD (with a further 660,000 watching on ITV+1).

That not only handed Strictly the first victory in this year’s talent show war but also made it the ballroom competition’s most successful launch to date. 

X Factor judge Simon Cowell conceded defeat this morning on Twitter (although he chose to share a rather more flattering ratings measurement), but reiterated his frustration that the two shows had to go head-to-head in the first place.

Simon Cowell has already said that having Strictly and X Factor on at the same time (in slots from 8pm until just after 9pm) annoys the viewers. “I always think when people do that, the people they p****** off are the viewers. They say this isn’t a ratings battle. It is. That’s why they did it. They didn’t have to put it on at the same time as us, they did and it means people have to make a choice,” he said.

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The BBC has defended its decision to air Strictly at the same time as The X Factor, claiming that it was forced to run at a later time to avoid clashing with Coronation Street.”We always try to avoid direct clashes but it’s important that Strictly launches in primetime and with the extra episode of Coronation Street coming in, it’s unfortunately left us with very little room to move on this occasion,” a BBC spokesperson said.