X Factor series opener audience down to 6m

The X Factor recorded its lowest launch audience numbers since the talent show's first episode 13 years ago on Saturday night.

The show recorded an average of 6.0 million viewers on 2 September, comprising a 32% audience share, making it the most-watched show on TV on Saturday night. The audience peaked at 6.9 million (36% share).

The X Factor launched in 2004, when it attracted 4.9 million viewers. The next lowest ratings for an X Factor launch show up until this year's was in 2005 when the show drew in 6.72 million viewers. 

Last year’s series opener recorded 6.8 million viewers, while 2015's delivered 7.65 million.

ITV said Saturday’s launch show an additional 1.05 million viewers watched the Sunday afternoon repeat, while there were another 433,691 catch-up requests yesterday on its video on-demand service ITV Hub.

The Sunday episode on 3 September fared slightly better, with an average of 6.5 million – up on last year’s 6.3 million for the first Sunday show – with a 29% audience share and peak of 7.1 million.

The X Factor’s audience has steadily declined in recent years. In 2011, 10.8 million viewers tuned in for the show’s comeback, but subsequent launch shows failed to attract more than 9 million apart from in 2014, when creator Simon Cowell returned to the judges’ lineup.

The judges this year include Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh.