The first live show of 2019 pulled in a peak audience of 8.5million and an average of 7.7million viewers.
Last year's debut saw a peak of 10million and an average of 8.9million.
However, it still dominated its big entertainment rival Britain's Got Talent: The Champions, with the Simon Cowell backed show bringing in 3.7million viewers.
Those who did tune in to the BBC's dancing spectacle were wowed by Kelvin Fletcher's sizzling samba.
Viewers were hot under the collar as the former Emmerdale star, 35, shook his booty while dancing to La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz.
The judges also raved about the impressive moves, with Bruno Tonioli calling it the best opening Samba he'd seen in 15 years of being a telly judge.
And it was reflected in the scoring, with Kelvin and Oti scoring a leaderboard topping 32 points.
Claudia Winkleman revealed pro dancer Kevin Clifton even told her he needed to learn some tips from the actor.
Viewers' pulses raced watching the routine, with one writing: "Here am sat watching strictly with me Mam just so I can see Michelle Visage and Kelvin Fletcher coming out like that being able to move his body like that I 🥵 am dripping with sweat while my mam is sat beside me help."
Another said: "Oh my goodness! Kelvin Fletcher on Strictly! 💃 @bbcstrictly."
A third posted: "Jesus Christ, Kelvin Fletcher 😱 #strictly he can shift."
As a fourth wrote: "Those hips and that bum. Kelvin Fletcher you gorgeous piece of man you 😍😍😍😍 #StrictlyComeDancing #Strictly."
Kelvin certainly put the work in before the performance.
He previously revealed his bum was in agony after just two days training for the BBC show.
Buff Kelvin, who was drafted in as a last-minute replacement following Jamie Laing's injury, confessed his backside has suffered and it felt like he'd done 100 squats.
The star updated fans on his progress in the car journey home after his second rehearsal with pro partner Oti Mabuse.
Kelvin said: "So day two complete. How am I feeling? Yeah I'm good, I'm enjoying it, loving life, but let me tell you this, it's harder than it looks.
"You might be sitting at home thinking, it's only a twist. It's not only a twist, there's about 10 different things when you do those twists."
He added: "Me legs are hurting, me a**e is hurting, my bum, no idea why. Feels like I've done a million squats! But yeah it's good, great. This is amazing.
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Kelvin said it was a "dream come true" to star in the show after the BBC One dance series confirmed he was joining the line-up.
Jamie, 30, threw the show into chaos when he was forced to pull out of the competition with a foot injury just two days before last night's pre-recorded launch show.
The Made In Chelsea star has been left on crutches after he injured his right foot when he landed awkwardly during a group routine.
He confessed that he was "absolutely devastated" to leave the competition, wishing the rest of the celebs luck with the series.