The launch episode of Strictly Come Dancing was watched by an average of seven million viewers, according to overnight ratings.
This marked a drop in viewing figures from 2020’s launch which was watched by an average of 8.6 million.
Saturday night’s episode achieved a 44.7% audience share and had a peak of 7.3 million viewers, according to the broadcaster.
Last year’s series opener, which came during a time of unusually strong ratings amid the pandemic, achieved a lower audience share of 42.2% but a higher peak of nine million viewers.
The launch saw the 15-strong cohort of celebrity contestants paired up with their professional partners.
Great British Bake Off star John Whaite was paired with Johannes Radebe as part of the first all-male couple on the BBC One flagship programme.
Rugby player Ugo Monye was confirmed as dancing with two-time Strictly champion Oti Mabuse, who is hoping to secure her third consecutive win, while three-time Olympic champion Adam Peaty, who specialises in breaststroke, was paired with Katya Jones.
EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis was partnered with Giovanni Pernice and is the first deaf contestant to appear on Strictly.
The episode also saw Anton Du Beke make his debut as a full-time judge and receive a standing ovation from the studio audience.
Last year’s winners Bill Bailey and Mabuse revisited their routine to Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang and Anne-Marie performed her single Kiss My (Uh-Oh).
On Wednesday, the BBC confirmed a professional dancer had tested positive for Covid-19 but the launch would be unaffected as it was pre-recorded.
The night before the launch, the broadcaster said in a statement that it does not “comment on speculation of somebody’s Covid vaccination status” after reports two professionals had refused the vaccine.