Simon Cowell's 'Britain's Got Talent' Loses Viewers, Tops 'The Voice UK'

UPDATED: The ITV talent competition continues to win the Saturday night ratings showdown in Britain, with Cowell defending its decision to allow acts that have appeared on other shows to perform.

LONDON -- Simon Cowell's Britain's Got Talent on ITV saw a drop in its average viewership Saturday, but it once again beat out the BBC's The Voice UK.

The third episode of BGT, which is in its seventh season, drew an average of 9.6 million viewers, including viewers of a rerun on a catch-up channel that started right after the show's first airing. That was down from the audience of 10.3 million recorded a week earlier.

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But the show still handily beat the BBC's The Voice UK, which attracted an average of 7.7 million viewers with the fifth episode of its second season. That was down from 7.9 million a week earlier, which was a season high.

ITV said BGT's latest episode was on a par with the audience that the comparable episode last year had drawn. The Voice UK had reached close to 10 million viewers at this stage last year.

BGT's Saturday episode saw its ratings peak with 11.5 million viewers, for a 49 percent share of all TV viewers in Britain at that time.

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In its first two weeks, BGT was the only show on British TV this year to break the 10 million mark in immediately available ratings.

Meanwhile, Cowell Sunday night on Twitter defended the show's policy to allow acts that have appeared on other shows in the past, which some have criticized. “We try and have a no rules policy on the show," he said. "Would it be right to say to someone who has appeared on a show before, 'you can’t audition?'”

The two talent shows have been in one of the most closely watched TV ratings showdowns in Britain since The Voice in its first season last year beat BGT for several weeks in a row.

In addition to Cowell, the BGT judges are Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and comedian David Walliams. The Voice UK team of coaches consists of Jessie J,, Tom Jones and Danny O’Donoghue.

Twitter: @georgszalai