Viewers were kept waiting for 15 minutes as they tuned in to see the final six perform a 'Lady GaGa vs Queen' tribute and discover who out of Amelia Lily, James Michael, Jonjo Kerr and 2 Shoes would be returning.
Instead, ITV screened a montage of some of the series's more notable auditions, including the debut performances of finalists Janet Devlin, Sami Brookes and Johnny Robinson, controversially-axed contestant Jade Richards and Goldie Cheung, who quit after being granted a spot in the final 16 by Louis Walsh.
X Factor announcer Peter Dickson was among those discussing the issue on Twitter, saying: "Omg! We have technical difficulties. People scrambling all over the studio now, hopefully on air soon."
The official X Factor Twitter account later clarified: "The studio is ready and raring to go... but there is a technical failure at BT Tower."
When the show finally began, host Dermot O'Leary apologised on behalf of the show and said that the delay was "beyond our control".
Lily, Michael, Kerr and 2 Shoes were granted the chance to re-enter The X Factor after Frankie Cocozza was ejected earlier this week.