X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon surprised the judges with her singing talent
The first in the series of ITV1 show The X Factor was watched by just under 10 million viewers, easily beating all other rival terrestrial channels.
Its closest competitor was BBC One's The National Lottery: Guesstimation, which attracted an audience of 2.3m.
Now in its sixth series, The X Factor hopefuls have to audition in front of a live audience instead of just four celebrity judges.
Last year's winner Alexandra Burke signed a US record deal in February.
The opening show featured the usual mix of the talented and the seemingly deluded - one female duo from Lithuania were told to stick to modelling after an ear-splitting rendition of Robbie Williams's Angels.
The judges - Simon Cowell, Danni Minogue, Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole - were more impressed with 19-year-old single mum Stacey Solomon from Dagenham in Essex.
The giggly teenager "surprised" Cowell with her soulful version of Louis Armstrong's It's A Wonderful World.
The X Factor's traditional ratings rival, BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing, returns to the screens in September.
Robbie Williams recently confirmed he would appear on this series of the X Factor.
It has also been rumoured that Rihanna, Whitney Houston and Madonna might make appearances on the show, which is hosted by Dermot O'Leary.