The X Factor averaged 11.7m (42.5%) from 7.45pm, peaking at a healthy 12.91m (45.1%) for the last 15 minutes as the final 16 acts were revealed.
A further 405k (1.5%) watched the programme on ITV1+1, and spinoff show The Xtra Factor averaged 888k (3.4%) for ITV2 from 9pm and 160k (1%) on +1.
Series three of The Only Way Is Essex continued with 981k (6.1%) on ITV2 from 10.15pm, down by more than 600k on the debut episode the previous Sunday. A further 122k (1.5%) watched the show on ITV2+1.
Back on ITV1, quiz show Holding Out For a Hero continued with 2.78m (13%) from 6.45pm. Downton Abbey delighted 8.73m (34.1%) on ITV1 from 9pm and 350k (2.2%) on timeshift, easily outperforming Spooks's 4.34m (16.4%) on BBC One. The Adrian Chiles-fronted That Sunday Night Show fetched 1.74m (10.7%) on ITV1 from 10.15pm.
BBC One's Songs of Praise found the right tune with 3.17m (18.1%) from 5.30pm, Countryfile nabbed 6.66m (28.6%) from 7pm and Antiques Roadshow took 5.85m (21.1%) from 8pm.
Warship sailed away with 441k (1.6%) on Channel 5 in the 8pm slot, before Big Brother appealed to 1.3m (4.9%) in the 10pm hour. A screening of Shallow Hal attracted 715k (5.5%) from 10pm.
A repeat of Top Gear revved up 1.3m (5.6%) on BBC Two in the 7pm hour, before A South American Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby mustered 1.17m (4.2%) from 8pm. Fry's Planet Word enchanted 1.35m (5.1%) from 9pm, and Match of the Day 2 scored with 2.69m (16.8%) from 10pm.
A showing of Star Trek attracted 1.8m (7.4%) from 7pm and 379k (1.4%) on +1. New series Fighting on The Frontlines educated 990k (3.7%) in the 9pm hour and 119k (0.7%) on timeshift. John Lennon early years biopic Nowhere Boy enchanted 960k (7%) from 10pm and 124k (1.8%) on +1.
Overall, ITV1 dominated primetime with 30.9% (+1: 1%) against BBC One's 20.1%. BBC Two came in third with 7.1%, followed by Channel 4's 5.8% (+1: 1.1%) and Channel 5's 3.4%.
On the multi-channels, Strike Back: Project Dawn continued with 384k (1.4%) on Sky1 in the 9pm hour, while a rerun of The Fades spooked 223k (1.3%) on BBC Three from 10pm.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional