'X Factor' U.K. Ratings Rise as BBC Dance Show Takes Break

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Sharon Osbourne is back as a judge for the 10th season of the U.K. version of "The X Factor."

ITV also saw a bigger audience for its own dancing competition "Stepping Out," which has started off with weak ratings.

LONDON – The U.K. version of The X Factor drew a peak audience of 10.4 million viewers Saturday night, about 900,000 more viewers than it had attracted a week earlier when BBC hit show Strictly Come Dancing had its season debut.

In its 8-9 p.m. slot on ITV, the Simon Cowell-created music competition show drew an average audience of 9.1 million – up from 8.3 million a weak earlier. That was also more than 1 million above the average audience for the comparable fifth episode of the 2012 season.

All figures include the audience for a repeat of the show, which is in its 10th season, immediately after the first broadcast. X Factor has seen some format tweaks in Britain this season, while its judging panel only saw one change in the return of Sharon Osbourne.

Celebrity ballroom dancing show Strictly had its season debut last weekend, but will only return full-time at the end of the month.

Without it, new ITV dance show Stepping Out, which follows X Factor, enjoyed a ratings boost on Saturday. It gained nearly 1 million viewers from the previous week to 3.1 million. Still, industry observers have suggested the show could be short-lived unless its ratings improve.

Strictly, which is in its 11th season, attracted an average audience of 8.4 million a week ago, up from 8 million for the 2012 season premiere and the highest launch episode in at least four years.

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