The X Factor's audience has sunk still further after the latest show dipped below eight million viewers for the first time in almost five years.

Sunday night's edition of the ITV1 programme had an average audience of just 7.9 million, even including the viewers who followed the show on the +1 channel.

In previous years the programme has tended to build its audience from the launch show, but this time the series has been shedding viewers, with the Sunday show 800,000 viewers down on the first edition last month.

The last time the programme pulled in fewer than eight million viewers is thought to be December 2007. Sunday night's show had been up against the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.

The X Factor is continually struggling to match even last year's figures, with Saturday's audition show down almost three million viewers on the figure for this stage of the competition in 2011.

The programme pulled in 8.2 million, which was 2.9 million down on the previous year.

There have been criticisms about the minimal amount of each programme which is actually devoted to music.

In a further blow for X Factor supremo Simon Cowell, there have been reports that his programme Red Or Black? may be axed by ITV.

However, an ITV spokeswoman said: "No decision has been taken on further series. We are concentrating on the current run."