X Factor final loses four million viewers
Sunday's X Factor final shed nearly four million viewers compared to last year's finale, overnight figures from ITV have revealed.
Girl group Little Mix were crowned winners in front of a peak TV audience of 15.5 million. In 2010, a peak of 19.4 million saw Matt Cardle's triumph.
In 2009, 19.1 million viewers tuned in.
However, the current series was still the third-highest rated since X Factor began in 2004, with an average weekly audience of 11 million.
The grand finale, held at Wembley Arena, had an average audience of 13.1m over its two-hour run. On BBC One, the results show for Strictly Come Dancing's semi-final attracted an average audience of 10.9m.
Little Mix are the first band to win the X Factor, after being mentored by N Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos, who was brought into replace former judge Cheryl Cole.
The band, made up of Jade Thirlwall, 18, Perrie Edwards, also 18, Jesy Nelson, 20, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, 19, beat Marcus Collins to take the title.
After winning the viewers' vote, Nelson said: "This is never going to sink in."
Their first single, a cover of Damien Rice's ballad Cannonball, was released digitally on Monday morning.
Little Mix - who come from London, Essex and Tyne and Wear - had never met before being put together as a band during the bootcamp stage of the X Factor auditions.
They took 48.3% of the public vote, and said they were stunned by their victory.
"We are just so so grateful and thankful to everyone who voted and to everyone backstage," Thirlwall said.
Contostavlos added: "I think I wanted them to win more than they did."
In defeat, Liverpudlian Collins, 23, said: "I'm really proud of myself and these girls really deserve it, they're amazing."
Statistics released by ITV showed that Collins had never topped the public vote during the 10 weeks of live shows.
Northern Irish teenager Janet Devlin was the most popular singer in the first four weeks of the competition, after which Amelia Lily and Little Mix alternated in the top spot until the finals.
'Biggest girl band'
The two acts battled it out in the second part of the show's final, after fellow contestant Amelia Lily had been voted out on Saturday.
They both sang their favourite song from the series so far, a Christmas song and their versions of the winner's single in front of a 10,000-strong audience at London's Wembley Arena.
Little Mix chose to once more perform their rendition of En Vogue's Don't Let Go and the Christmas carol, Silent Night.
After they sang, judge Louis Walsh predicted the group would be the biggest girl band in the UK "by a mile".
"You've the vocals, you've got the chemistry, you've got the work ethic, you've got Tulisa and the public are going to love you," he added.
Collins sang Jackie Wilson's Higher and Higher, accompanied by a gospel choir, and Wham's Last Christmas.
Walsh described the singer as "a born little pop star" with fellow judge Gary Barlow calling it "an amazing performance".
"In the history of the X Factor I can't remember a finalist or a winner that takes hold of a stage like you do," he said.
Saturday's show saw the finalists and Amelia Lily duet with their mentors with Collins singing Billy Joel's She's Always A Woman with Barlow.
Little Mix performed an Alicia Keys medley with Tulisa and Amelia Lily sang Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep - Mountain High with Kelly Rowland.
Voting breakdown, X Factor final
- Little Mix - 48.3%
- Marcus Collins - 42.8%
- Amelia Lily - 8.9%
However the performance was not enough to keep the 17-year-old from Middlesbrough in the competition as she received the fewest votes from the public.
Speaking on The Xtra Factor after the first instalment of the final, Simon Cowell - who left the judging panel this year to front a US version - called the show "absolutely amazing - one of the best finals I've ever seen".
When asked who he thought would win the competition, Cowell replied: "Without a doubt, Little Mix won the night.
"[They are] a revelation and if a girl group was to win this show it kind of makes history and maybe something special is going to happen."
Sunday's show also featured performances from Westlife, Coldplay and the final 12 X Factor finalists perform a mash-up of some of this year's biggest pop hits.