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Figures show X Factor viewing slide

Almost a million fewer viewers saw the results of The X Factor semi-final last night than were watching the equivalent stage last year.

Overnight ratings figures show ITV's Sunday night show - in which the contenders for the final were named - drew an average of 8.3 million, including viewers of the catch-up +1 channel.

But at the same stage of the series in 2013, the edition had pulled in 9.2 million.

Andrea Faustini, Fleur East and Ben Haenow will battle it out in next weekend's final after Lauren Platt bowed out of the contest last night following the sing-off.

Bookmaker William Hill has installed East as favourite to win the competition during the final which takes place next weekend over two days.

ITV bosses will be hoping guest acts One Direction, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs, Demi Lovato and Meghan Trainor will boost the audience for the final after the annual singing contest saw its ratings down yet again this series, trailing BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing.

The return of Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has not had the expected effect of boosting viewing levels, with this series consistently down on last year's performance.

Last night's episode featured Cowell's new female band Fifth Harmony, from X Factor USA, who made their UK television debut with their new hit Boss, a tribute to Michelle Obama, to rapturous applause from the judges.

The American group were followed by last year's winner Sam Bailey, who performed her new single She with just a piano.

Crooner Michael Buble made a surprise performance with Frozen singer Idina Menzel for a cosy performance of Baby, It's Cold Outside.

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