Cowell concedes defeat to Strictly
Strictly Come Dancing has won its first head-to-head clash of 2014 with rival The X Factor with 800,000 more viewers, according to overnight figures.
The launch edition of the BBC One dance show had an average audience of 8.4 million who tuned in last night (September 7) to see Sir Bruce Forsyth bow out and the celebrities meet their professional partners.
ITV's singing contest pulled in 7.6 million viewers, dropping more than a million viewers from the edition screened the night before which had 8.7 million.
And X Factor was down a huge two million viewers on the equivalent show last year, the fourth episode of the series.
X Factor bosses had hoped to revitalise their viewing figures this year with a revamp of the judging panel, welcoming back Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini to the show.
Strictly has been ahead for the past two years, with the ITV contest suffering an ongoing ratings slip.
But after a promising start for X Factor's launch a little over a week ago, the show has had a ratings hiccup with Saturday's show down 800,000 on the launch edition.
Not only did last night's Strictly have the higher average audience, it was also ahead in terms of peak audience - pulling in 9.4 million viewers at its height, while X Factor claimed a peak of 9.2 million.
Cowell said of the figures: "Round one to them. Such a shame they were both on at the same time."
Strictly viewers saw show veteran Sir Bruce hand over to the new co-hosts after a decade fronting the show in style - by performing a tap dance.
And he admitted: "I'll really miss being here with this atmosphere, with Dave and the band and the singer. It is that kind of night for me."
Celebrities taking part this year include pop star Pixie Lott, tennis coach Judy Murray and MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace who will battle it out on the dance floor in a bid to win the coveted glitterball trophy.
Professional dancer Iveta Lukosiute was lost for words as she was partnered with rugby hunk and model Thom Evans.
And the couple were tipped as early favourites by judge Len Goodman, who told viewers: "The one I'm going to look out for is Tom. He is used to being in a scrum, and with Iveta they are going to be scrumptious."
Food-lover Gregg is hoping to cook up a storm on the dance floor with Aliona Vilani. He declared: "I am very happy because I know what an amazing dancer she is. I am really chuffed, I've watched Aliona dance and she is amazing."
But he might get a grilling from Craig Revel Horwood as the judge revealed he was out to dish up some revenge after Gregg panned his food when he appeared on MasterChef.
Craig said: "I'm dying to see Greg Wallace dance, darling. He said some very nasty things to me on Celebrity MasterChef and I don't know whether I should forgive him."
Judy Murray was partnered with Anton Du Beke - and revealed that she would "wipe" her son Andy's Wimbledon trophy from the mantelpiece for the glitterball trophy.