BBC1’s new talent competition The Voice UK launched with 8.42m viewers, but was beaten by the return of Britain’s Got Talent on ITV1.
The format, developed by Big Brother creator John de Mol and presented by Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates, took to the mic with an average audience of 8.42m (37.61%) between 7pm and 8.20pm.
As the judges, including Tom Jones and Jessie J, made their decisions to ditch or keep the new crop of talent using only their ears, The Voice peaked with 9.82m (43.36%) over a five-minute period from 7.55pm.
It was no match for the sixth series launch of Britain’s Got Talent, which heralded the return of Simon Cowell and introduction of new judges David Walliams and Alesha Dixon.
BGT got underway with an average audience of 9.43m (39.16%) from 8pm to 9.20pm across ITV1 and ITV1 HD, peaking with 11.5m (46.29%) at 9.10pm.
The repeat an hour later on time-shifted service ITV1+1 attracted another 567k (2.54%) viewers, according to overnight Barb figures supplied by Attentional.
Howevver, in the period the two talent contests overlapped, between 8pm and 8.20pm, the ITV1 show was comfortably beaten.
BGT could only manage 6.56m (26.89%) viewers, while The Voice secured 8.96m (36.7%).
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has said he will measure the success of The Voice launch against the original episodes of other entertainment giants currently on air.
In this context, the show surpasses all of its rivals, toppling The X Factor, which launched with 5m (26.8%) on 4 September 2004.
It also triumphed over Strictly Come Dancing’s debut audience of 4.46m (32.3%) on 15 May 2004, as well as Britain’s Got Talent, which made its bow on 9 July 2007 with 4.87m (22.86%).
The Voice was BBC1’s highest rating show on Saturday and obliterated the channel’s slot average of 5.72m (26.34%) viewers for the past 12 months.
It also ensured that, what could be the final ever episode of Harry Hill’s TV Burp, entertained its lowest audience of the series.
The TV archive show could only muster an audience of 3.36m (15.11%) from 7.30pm to 8pm in an eight-part series that averaged 4.56m (20.36%).
A further 329k (1.39%) watched Saturday’s instalment on ITV1+1.
Britain’s Got Talent
The strong performance of BBC1’s new talent show certainly put a dent in Britain’s Got Talent’s ratings, despite the Syco TV and Thames format eventually proving victorious.
Excluding ITV1+1 figures, it was the show’s lowest launch audience since 2008, when a crowd of 9.09m (38%) tuned in.
Last year’s opener drew overnights of 9.95m (40.56%) / 495k (2.24%) +1 on 16 April.
However, the launch of the latest series still smashed ITV1’s slot average of 6.6m (28.39%) for the past year and secured the channel’s biggest ratings haul of the day.
Britain’s Got Talent’s ITV2 sister show Britain’s Got More Talent also returned, entertaining 663k (3.08%) between 8.20pm and 9.20pm. An additional 156k (0.93%) watched later on ITV2+1.
The hour-long behind the scenes peek at the contestants was well down on last year’s ratings of 876k (4.2%).