The X Factor Ratings Are In: Have Cheryl & Simon Cowell Helped Lure Back Viewers?

Simon Cowell has been making a big effort to revive The X Factor’s ratings this year; returning both himself and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cole) to the judging panel and recruiting the no-nonsense Mel B to sit beside Louis Walsh. And though it’s definitely a three-month marathon rather than a quick sprint, the early signs are encouraging if the first episode’s viewing figures are anything to go by.

Last night (August 30) 9.5 million tuned in to see acts including Blonde Electric, Chloe Jasmine and Jay James progress to an Arena Audition, marking an impressive 290,000 increase on last year and 780,000 on the year before that. Can it maintain that momentum for the next few months once Strictly Come Dancing reappears?

The show’s record for the most-watched series premiere is for the 2011 run, when 11.3 million tuned in to see Kelly Rowland, Tulisa and Gary Barlow joining Walsh on the panel. Prior to that, 11.1 million caught the first ep in the 2010 series, 9.9 million for 2009 and 10.2 million tuned in to see Cheryl’s first ever appearance as a judge in 2008. Last night’s ep was the joint-fifth most watched debut in the show’s 11-year history; tying with the 2007 season when Dannii Minogue made her first appearance alongside a short-lived Brian Friedman.

Elsewhere in the ratings yesterday, Doctor Who was BBC One’s most-watched offering with 5.2 million as Peter Capaldi’s doc ventured inside a Dalek, but it was still 1.59 million down on last week’s series premiere. Back on ITV, Through The Keyhole generated a viewership of 3.93 million and The Chase: Celebrity Special managed 4.33 million ahead of X Factor.

The singing show returns to ITV tonight for its second instalment, while Strictly Come Dancing airs its launch show next Sunday (September 7) before starting properly at the end of the month. Don’t know about you, but we’ll be watching both.