BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' Beats ITV's 'X Factor' in U.K. Ratings Battle

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Simon Cowell's show on Saturday once again drew a bigger audience than 'Doctor Who' though

BBC's celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing beat out ITV music competition The X Factor, with Simon Cowell among the judges, to become Friday's and Saturday's most-watched show in Britain.

But X Factor on Saturday once again came in well ahead of BBC's Doctor Who in the shows' first direct clash after the sci-fi hit's move to a later time slot.

The return of Cowell had boosted the season launch ratings for X Factor a few weeks ago, and Cowell has said his goal was to beat Strictly, known in the U.S. as Dancing With the Stars, this season. The dance show has outperformed the U.K. ratings for X Factor for the past two seasons.

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‪On Saturday night, Strictly drew an average audience of 8.18 million, compared to X Factor‬'s 7.85 million, according to ratings consultancy Attentional. Strictly's audience was down by 930,000 from last year's equivalent episode, while X Factor was up 20,000, it said. Doctor Who‬, starring Peter Capaldi, reached 4.89 million.

On Friday night, Strictly averaged 6.53 million viewers, ahead of X Factor's 5.85 million, according to Attentional, as the music competition aired on a Friday for the first time.

X Factor also lost out to the recent Strictly season debut in the ratings showdown, with the first weekend of their showdown continuing the trend.

The BBC revealed recently that to accommodate the 12th season of Strictly, Doctor Who would be bumped to a later Saturday time slot of 8.30 p.m., the show’s latest in its history. The switch means Who now starts at a time when X Factor is also on the air.

Twitter: @georgszalai