Belfast Telegraph

The Voice wins ratings battle again

BBC1's The Voice continued its winning streak by beating Britain's Got Talent in ratings for a third successive week, after days of embarrassment for Simon Cowell.

The "battle stage" of the BBC show - in which coaches whittled down their acts in a head-to-head sing-off - drew an average audience of 9.9 million on Saturday night.

BGT mustered 9.7 million on ITV1 - including its plus-one viewers who tuned in later - for a 75-minute show, the first time since both series began last month that there has been no overlap.

ITV moved its show to a later slot of 8.30pm after repeatedly losing out when the shows had a 20-minute clash. And it had been quietly confident that the move would reap benefits when viewers switched over in droves when The Voice finished.

However it was still not enough to triumph and without plus-one viewers, it managed an average of 9.3 million.

BGT boss Cowell has had a difficult week after revelations were made about his private life in a new book by Tom Bower. They included an affair with Dannii Minogue and unflattering comments about judges and contestants from his other show The X Factor.

Even the BBC had been unsure about whether the audience would hold up for their show due to a change in the programme's format between the audition stages and the forthcoming live shows. There is another battle heat on Sunday to see who will join acts such as Ruth Brown and Jaz Ellington before the live stages start on Saturday and viewers begin to vote.

The Voice drew the highest peak audience with 11.6 million, while ITV said its peak was 11.1 million.

Saturday's edition of The Voice could prompt cries of dirty tricks because it overran slightly, despite it being a pre-recorded rather than live programme, which had an impact on the audience for the first few moments of BGT. The ITV1 show had 5.7 million viewers at 8.30pm, but five minutes later it had increased by four million.

ITV took comfort from the fact its audience was a million higher for the fifth episode of the series than it was last year.

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