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BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' Again Beats 'X Factor' in U.K. Saturday Ratings Showdown

Simon Cowell
Jeff Lipsky / FOX
"X Factor" creator Simon Cowell

New drama "Atlantis" debuted to an average audience of 5.8 million people on the British public broadcaster.

LONDON -- BBC celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing again beat ITV's The X Factor Saturday night in this season's second showdown of the British hit programs.

Strictly, which is in its 11th season here, kicked off its live episodes Saturday, drawing an average audience of 9.1 million viewers. That marked the show's highest-rated start of its live episodes in years and was up nearly 400,000 viewers from last year.

STORY: Simon Cowell Sings on 'X Factor'

Meanwhile, Simon Cowell's X Factor dropped about a million viewers from last week amid Strictly's return, even though the shows only overlapped for 5 minutes. ITV had pushed the start time from 8 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

An average of 7.8 million watched X Factor, the smallest average audience of the current 10th season. But the show has seen stronger ratings this season up until Saturday. Across its auditions episodes, its ratings were up 7 percent over the 2012 season.

In terms of Saturday peak audiences, Strictly reached 10.16 million viewers, while the X Factor drew 8.83 million. The first time both shows had aired on the same day this season, X Factor had won the peak ratings showdown.

Meanwhile, new BBC drama Atlantis had a good debut Saturday, averaging 5.8 million viewers on BBC One. That meant a share of 26.2 percent of people watching TV in Britain at the time.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai