The controversial replacement of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc with Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding has been a particular point of concern among fans.
But there was only one baker who stole the show, with Flo, aged 71, melting fans hearts telling viewers she found her love for baking after her husband died.
Tuesday's opener got more viewers than any of the BBC Two launch episodes between 2010 and 13.
The numbers do not include those watching on the broadcaster's catch up service All 4.
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Last night's series eight debut, broadcast between 8-9.15pm, helped the Channel 4 to its biggest overnight performance since the Paralympic Games opening ceremony in August 2012.
The first commercial was for online auctioning site Ebay, while other ads were for brands including Freeview, Lloyds, BMW and EE and Channel 4 shows such as Gogglebox, Celebs Go Dating and new comedy Back.
Despite the drop in viewership, Channel 4 - which generally has a lower audience share than BBC1 - appears pleased with the number.
The Great British Bake Off launched on BBC1 in 2010 and became the most popular TV show in the United Kingdom in 2014 and 2015.
Hunt previously said they needed to attract at least 3 million viewers per episode to break even on their £75 million purchase.She added that they would be delighted with anything between 5 million and 7 million.
Paul Hollywood and new judge Prue Leith welcomed 12 fresh faces to the famous white tent - all of whom are aiming to be crowned Britain's best amateur baker.
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