Britain’s Got Talent launched with 8.3 million viewers on Saturday night – down on last year.
The new series saw Ant McPartlin appear alongside fellow host Declan Donnelly in scenes recorded in January.
ITV said the show, in which the judges and presenters were wowed by a magician, was the most-watched programme of the night.
But it is a drop from the 2017 opener – which was watched by 8.7 million, with a 42% audience share.
Saturday night’s show, featuring Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon, David Walliams and Amanda Holden returning as judges, had a 41% share and an audience peak of 9.6 million viewers.
ITV said Saturday’s Britain’s Got Talent instalment was the most-watched entertainment show of the year so far and that it was the most popular programme on any channel so far this year for 16 to 34-year-olds.
Last year’s series culminated with pianist Tokio Myers being crowned the champion.
Since the pre-recorded episodes of Britain’s Got Talent were filmed, McPartlin has been charged with drink-driving and stepped down from his TV commitments.
Donnelly hosted the final two episodes of fellow ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway alone.
ITV also aired the Grand National on Saturday afternoon, which peaked with 8.5 million viewers, up on last year’s figure of 8.2 million.