The return of Britain’s Got Talent has drawn around half a million fewer viewers than last year, when the show came back on air for the first time since the pandemic.
ITV said the first episode of the 16th series had an average of 5.5 million viewers based on overnight figures.
The peak viewing figure of the premiere of the talent show on Saturday at 8pm was 6.2 million viewers.
The broadcaster said it was ITV1’s highest rated programme of the year based on overnight figures.
During a similar time slot on BBC One on Saturday, quiz show Pointless Celebrities aired at 7.35pm drawing 2.2 million viewers on average based on overnight ratings.
The corporation also said that soap Casualty from 8.25pm took in an audience of 1.8 million viewers on average.
BGT will air a further episode of auditions on Sunday at 7.45pm.
Last year the show returned on a Saturday to ITV with an average of 6.1 million viewers and a TV audience peak of 7.2 million after two years off air due to Covid social distancing measures.
Season 15 then continued the next day for the second part of what was also a double bill weekend.
In 2022, comedian Axel Blake was crowned the winner and performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Last night’s premiere saw the first appearance of new judge Bruno Tonioli on the show as he joined Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Simon Cowell for the auditions, which took place earlier this year in London and Manchester.
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Tonioli gave a children’s dance group from Uganda the series’ first golden buzzer, which sends the act straight through to the competition’s live semi-final.
After the routine, the professional dancer said: “I was literally exploding. I am telling you, you should be proud of yourself. I can’t wait to see you back.”
The episode also featured a 13-year-old magician from Ireland, a Japanese comedian who travelled with an interpreter to the competition, a Darth Vader-dressed keyboardist and a recorder player who used his nose to play his instrument.
The contestants are again competing for a prize of £250,000 and the opportunity to perform at the Royal Variety Performance in front of the royal family later this year.
Geordie duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who have presented the show since it began in 2007, returned to host the programme.
Britain’s Got Talent continues on ITV1 and STV at 7.45pm on Sunday.