'Strictly Come Dancing' loses ratings duel

'X-Factor' attracts millions more than BBC competition

LONDON -- The BBC's bid to go head-to-head with scheduling "Strictly Come Dancing" against ITV's "X-Factor" failed to pay off on Saturday, pulling in 7.7 million viewers and a 33% share between 8 p.m. and 9:05 p.m., while ITV's Simon Cowell-fronted "X-Factor had drew 9.3 million between 8 pm and 9:15 p.m.

The BBC has drawn howls of protests from viewers after scheduling "Dancing" -- the U.K.'s equivalent of "Dancing With the Stars" in a competitive slot.

But sources at the pubcaster said it had no option, because it had to fit the show between the return of its family drama "Merlin," and sports highlights package "Match of the Day," which it cannot show at any other time.