The X Factor’s ratings slide has continued with the moment of triumph for Sam Bailey pulling in a million fewer viewers than last year’s series climax.

Last night’s average audience of 9.7 million viewers is the joint second lowest performance for a final results show since The X Factor began – with only 2005’s 9.3 million faring worse.

And it is a massive drop of 7.5 million viewers from the average 17.2 million who tuned in just three years ago when Matt Cardle was the victor.

The second stage of the final last year had an average audience of 11.1 million when James Arthur was crowned the winner of the series.

Last night’s programme tied with the 2004 results programme – the year the series launched – catapulting Steve Brookstein to a brief chart success.

However, the show did see a rare and narrow ratings victory over BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing, which pulled in 9.6 million for its results show and saw Patrick Robinson crash out at the semi-final stage. ITV’s audience figure included viewers on its catch-up +1 channel.

The X Factor results show saw its audience peak at 11.9 million, compared to 12.8 million in 2012, and it was still the highest-viewed programme on TV last night, easily beating BBC One’s Sports Personality Of The Year which was screened simultaneously.

The sports awards show – which saw Andy Murray take the main honours – had an average audience of 5.6 million, down five million in a year although 2012 had brought a ratings surge on the back of the Olympic year and Sir Bradley Wiggins’s Tour De France win.

And figures show that X Factor generated three times as many Tweets as the Sports Personality programme last night.

The X Factor has trailed the BBC’s ballroom programme throughout this year and it has seen its audience tumble since the departure of show supremo Simon Cowell from the judging panel after the 2010 series.

The channel has recently signed a deal to screen X Factor – once one of its biggest bankers in terms of audiences – for a further three years.

Major changes in the judging panel lie ahead with both Gary Barlow and Sharon Osbourne bowing out after this year’s competition.