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ITV's X Factor finale peaks with audience of 12.5m

'The X Factor' bowed out last night with a peak audience of 12.5 million viewers, down almost three million from 2011, as James Arthur became the latest winner of a £1m record contract.

'The X Factor' winner James Arthur (l) and runner-up Jahmene Douglas

'The X Factor' winner James Arthur (l) and runner-up Jahmene Douglas

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According to unofficial overnight figures, ‘The X Factor’ had an average of 10.94 million viewers, a 39.1% share, between 7.45pm and 9.45pm. An additional 133,100 watched the show on ITV1 +1.

Although Sunday night’s peak audience of 12.5 million viewers represented a decline of 2.8 million from the 15.3 million viewers who watched Little Mix win the singing competition last year, it was the highest rating show of the weekend.

The 12.5 million viewers who watched 24-year-old Arthur beat 21-year-old Jahmene Douglas last night also represents the biggest ratings for TV since the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer.

An ITV spokesperson said: "The X Factor final last night attracted the largest audience on British television since the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. The series has been in high demand from advertisers as it continues to attract important audiences in very large numbers."

BBC One’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ has had a bigger audience than ‘The X Factor’ for much of this series, but last night it peaked at 10.9 million viewers and an average of 9.83 million viewers tuned in between 7pm and 7.45pm.

On Saturday night ‘The X Factor’ delivered a peak audience of 10.3 million viewers (or 10.5 million including ITV1 +1) and an average audience of 9.29 million viewers, a 38.4% share, between 8pm and 10pm.

Last year the equivalent penultimate ‘The X Factor’ episode had a peak audience of 11.74 million viewers and an average audience of 10.60 million viewers between 8 and 10pm (10 December 2011).

‘The X Factor’ is sponsored by TalkTalk and the final was held in Manchester for the first time this year.

On Saturday night ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ delivered a peak audience of 12.2 million viewers and an average of 10.75 million viewers between 6.45 and 8pm, a 45.3% share of the TV watching audience.

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