Airing at the busy 7pm time slot, Strictly beat rival The X Factor in the ratings battle once again, despite just a 40 minute show overlap.
The prerecorded BBC programme began outside Broadcasting House in London, before cutting to the new studio in Elstree.
This Morning star Ruth Langsford proved popular after pairing with professional dancer Anton Du Beke, before viewers tuned in for a poignant tribute to late host Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Strictly attracted an average of 8.8 million viewers and peaked at 9.5 million viewers, making it the most watched show of the day with a 44.7 per cent share.
ITV • BBCStrictly Come Dancing 2017: Launch BEATS X Factor ratings after Sir Bruce Forsyth tribute
Everyone, and I mean everyone at Strictly is thinking of you
It marks a slight dip on last year's biggest ever launch when it drew a record 9.3 million viewers, and a peak of 10.1 million.
The X Factor drew an average of 5.5 million viewers, including those watching on the ITV HD and ITV+1 channels, peaking at 6.8 million viewers.
ITV’s singing competition launched last week to just six million viewers, its lowest ever since launching in 2004.
The figures for both shows are likely to rise when the official consolidated ratings are published, which will include viewers who recorded the shows and watched up to seven days afterwards on catch-up.
It comes as Strictly presenter Tess Daly broke down in tears after an emotional dance dedicated to her former co-host Sir Bruce.
Tess said: “What a routine. He would have loved that. Our thoughts are with his dear wife Winnie, his children and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.
“Everyone, and I mean everyone at Strictly is thinking of you,” she tearfully added.
As Claudia Winkleman offered a comforting hug, Tess continued: “To put it in his own words, didn’t he do well?”
Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One on Saturday September 23.