The celebrity singing contest, in which stars are disguised in elaborate costumes so that a panel of judges and the audience at home have to guess their identity, premiered with 5.5M viewers between 7PM and 8.30PM.
It was the highest-rated show of the day on any channel, peaking with 6.5M as the identity of The Butterfly was revealed, according to BARB figures provided by overnights.tv.
Based on a format originally created by Korean broadcaster MBC and made by fledging Scottish producer Bandicoot, The Masked Singer beat the second season debut of Simon Cowell’s show The Greatest Dancer on BBC One, which was watched by 3.2M in the same slot. This was well below its first season debut of 4.7M.
The Masked Singer also outperformed The Voice UK later on ITV. The John de Mol-created singing contest, now in its ninth series, returned with an audience of 4.6M.
In fact, The Masked Singer‘s 5.5M viewers made it ITV’s biggest new entertainment launch since 2013, when celebrity diving contest Splash! debuted with 5.7M viewers, according to BBC journalist Lizo Mzimba. This does not include The Voice UK, which premiered on ITV in 2017 with 6M viewers, but brought with it an already established audience after moving over from BBC One.