ITV’s decision to screen an extra edition of X Factor against the launch of Strictly Come Dancing on Friday, September 26, looks to have backfired after the talent show pulled in one of its lowest ever audiences.

The BBC1 dance show had an average of 6.5 million for its hour-long show, while its ITV rival drew just 5.8 million, one of its worst figures since the series launched in 2004.

Many will now question the wisdom of ITV’s surprise decision to schedule a Friday edition of The X Factor for the first time.

The network had said its Sunday night schedule was too full so it had to spread the “boot camp” stage over three consecutive nights, instead of two.

The latest figures will come as a blow to Simon Cowell, who had hoped to rejuvenate X Factor viewing figures with his return to the judging panel, but this year’s ratings have continued a downward trend for the show over the past three years.

But it was not plain sailing for Strictly either. Its audience last night was down more than a million on the 7.8 million who tuned in for the 2013 launch.