X Factor final hits ratings low
The X Factor final drew its lowest audience since its launch year in 2004 last night - and was down a million even from last year.
The show also trailed BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing which was only at its semi-final stage.
The ITV talent show could muster an average audience of just 8.5 million (including viewers on the catch-up +1 channel).
The only time it has fared worse was in 2004 when it pulled in 8.1 million for its first ever final, won by Steve Brookstein who has been all but forgotten by show bosses as they celebrated their tenth series this year.
To underline the show's marked audience decline in recent years, the equivalent show in 2010 - when Matt Cardle was the victor - drew 14.1 million viewers.
The Saturday stage of the final pulled in 9.5 million in 2012.
Show boss Simon Cowell recently signed a further three-year deal to keep the programme with ITV.
Last night's X Factor trailed Strictly as it has done all series, with the BBC1 show pulling in an average of 9.9 million viewers although this was actually down on the 10.6 million it had drawn a week earlier.
ITV bosses could draw some comfort from last night's programme being the highest-rating Saturday night live show of the series, although it was still only 100,000 viewers ahead of last Saturday's semi-final.
Viewers will tonight see the winner crowned in the second stage of the final.
The X Factor has has seen its fortunes wane since Simon Cowell left the judging panel after the 2010 series.
For many years it was one of ITV's bankers in terms of audiences and advertising.