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Strictly Come Dancing launch show dominates Saturday night TV ratings battle

Strictly Come Dancing - why not on this Saturday
(Image credit: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock)

Fans enjoyed a glittering start to series 16

Strictly Come Dancing returned to our TV screens last night, and the series 16 launch show was the most watched show on the box.

Despite competition from the likes of X Factor on ITV, a whopping 8.5 million viewers tuned in to watch this year's launch show, which saw the celebrities - including the likes of Katie Piper, Stacey Dooley and Kate Silverton - be partnered with their professional dancers.

The numbers made it the "most watched show across all channels on TV" on Saturday, with an average of 8.1 million viewers tuning in for the entire episode.

New Strictly Come Dancing category to introduce three fresh styles of dance

While those numbers are marginally down on last year's series launch, which attracted a peak audience of 9.5 million, Strictly is already beating its biggest rival, X Factor, in the ratings battle.

Despite Simon Cowell revamping the show and introducing a totally new judging panel - which includes Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and Ayda Field - X Factor returned to it's lowest figures since 2004 last week.

The X Factor judges Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Simon Cowell and Louis Tomlinson

(Image credit: Thames/Syco)

But, Simon isn't worried about the future of the show, and revealed last week that he's in a bidding war of his own to potentially move X Factor and Britain's Got Talent from ITV once his contract expires at the end of 2019.

“I mean they are proven brands and they bring in the right audience so that has never been an issue," he explained. "We’ve turned down bigger deals in the past but all I’m saying is we know the audience it brings in and what it looks like in advertising.”

As long as the audience are enjoying it, that's all Simon cares about.

“I have never been concerned about not getting a new deal. My concern is more of a personal thing to make sure the audience don’t get bored with it."

Strictly returns to BBC1 on September 22. X Factor returns to ITV tonight at 8pm.