The X Factor final had its worst audience for seven years on Saturday night - and failed to beat rival Strictly Come Dancing.
It is the first time for years that the Saturday-night final of the ITV1 show has been beaten by the BBC1 dance contest, with the show trailing by 1.3 million viewers.
It is all the more embarrassing for X Factor chiefs because Strictly is still two weeks away from its own final.
X Factor could muster an average audience of just 9.5 million for the first stage of the final - its worst showing since 2005 when 9.2 million watched Shayne Ward triumph in the show.
That year's low figures were attributed to the final going head-to-head with the Strictly audience, which split loyalties.
In recent years, X Factor has usually enjoyed a clear lead over Strictly week after week.
But tumbling ratings in 2012 have ensured that it has been trailing throughout the series, at one stage by up to two million viewers.
The Saturday-night section of the final last year pulled in 10.9 million viewers but the figures look even more disastrous compared with 2010, when an average of 14.1 million watched.
The show has seen its fortunes wane since supremo Simon Cowell left the judging panel after the 2010 series.
Cowell has agreed to do a third series of his US version of the X Factor, which all but rules him out for a return to rescue the UK viewing figures.