LONDON (Reuters) - Girl band Little Mix became the first group to win Britain's "X Factor" television talent show on Sunday, beating hairdresser Marcus Collins in the final.
The quartet, aged between 18 and 20, screamed with delight following the announcement of the outcome of a public vote, and performed a cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball," which will be their debut single.
Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock will enjoy a media frenzy over the coming days, and are guaranteed a recording contract.
But going on to carve out a successful musical career may prove harder if previous X Factor winners, all soloists, are anything to go by.
Sunday's show, which featured a live performance by Coldplay before a crowd of around 10,000 at London's Wembley Arena, brought to an end a series that has seen viewer ratings consistently lower than in 2010.
This year's X Factor saw three changes to the judging panel, with only Louis Walsh continuing from 2010.
Simon Cowell, the show's creator and arguably its biggest draw for audiences, left to appear on the inaugural U.S. version of X Factor, while singers Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue also stepped down.
In their place came Take That frontman Gary Barlow, U.S. pop star Kelly Rowland and N-Dubz member Tulisa Contostavlos, and the overhaul has been blamed for weaker viewing figures.
On Saturday night, the first part of the X Factor's two-night final was beaten in the television audience ratings by the semi-final of rival show "Strictly Come Dancing" on public-owned broadcaster BBC.
ITV chief executive Adam Crozier recently defended X Factor, which regularly draws more than 10 million viewers.
"By and large they are in rude health. Although X Factor is down year on year it compares favourably to every other year. You've got to put it in perspective, X Factor across Saturday and Sunday night is the biggest show in the UK," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.
Little Mix was formed from soloists brought together by the show's producers. They were forced to change their name from Rhythmix following complaints from a children's music charity of the same name.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Louise Ireland)