A dead heat between Nine and Ten, Seven close behind and the ABC boosted by the hugely popular Kath and Kim, made last night’s television possibly the closest night in ratings this year.

Terry Television was mortified by The Collapse in Chennai. Sack them all, cut off Michael Clarke’s hands and let’s have a general purge!

Sorry, its not network television. My Apologies. And nor is it The Apprentice.

So the failure in Chennai meant a switch to free to air TV and the Thursday night schedule. Glad I did because there was a big hint of TV in 2005 last night, a view that was confirmed by the ratings Friday.

Possibly the closest night this year in the network. (And I know Thursday nights are odd with low viewing numbers) but a dead heat between Nine and Ten with 25.4% share each and Seven close behind, less than one point behind on a 24.5% share. The ABC boosted to a very high 19.5% by the Kath and Kim monster.

The bottom line being Kath and Kim clipped Nine and Ten, and Seven’s share was boosted. Thursday nights used to be Seven’s worst night of the week. Last night it was one of its strongest.

Now Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings are much more competitive between the Networks after being Nine or Ten benefits for much of the year. Sure the shares will change as programs come and go out of the schedule.

But for Nine its boastful aim of crushing Seven post Olympics has failed, even though Seven’s News and Today Tonight continue to go backwards against Nine’s programs.

Even in Sydney where the Seven News and TT were regularly beating Nine News and Ray Martin and ACA, the Seven momentum has gone. Instead it seems to have been transferred into the-mid evening programming where Seven was so very weak.

And this despite the failure of those much hoped for ratings successes (promoted endlessly during the Games) Trading Spouses and Playing it Straight (and to a lesser extent Paris Hilton’s clothed home video, the Simple Life).

Seven News and Today Tonight didn’t appear in the national or Sydney top ten’s for Thursday night. Nationally Seven News finished 12th and TT, 14th, both looking weak.

Kath and Kim was the major factor last night, but next year will see lots of ‘major factors’ from the three commercial networks and the ABC as each tries for ratings blockbusters to disrupt the others programming and drain viewers, as well as win the ratings (or demographics).

Ooops, Sorry. The ABC is not in it to win the ratings, so Kath and Kim and other strongly performing programs are part of the public service that the ABC is required to provide, while under-performing shows (such as Four Corners, for example) are part of the ABC approach of being an ‘Open Church’ for TV’s disabled, but not of the Sydney Anglican variety.

So Nine and Ten dead heated nationally, Seven was close up third, The ABC a close fourth and SBS finished with a high 5.3%.

Most of the extra audience won by Seven, the ABC and SBS came out of the Nine and Ten share, so that won’t be pleasing Willoughby and Pyrmont. But they will argue Kath and Kim is temporary. When it goes, we get some or all back. Could be, but Seven’s rise against Kath and Kim because they flicked those useless Playing It Straight and Trading Louses, sorry Spouses, is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored by its rivals.

RPA and Body Work, both reasonable performers for Nine in the 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm slot (two half hours) finished last night and next Thursday the million dollar man, Mike Munro pops up for a short appearance with This is Your Life.

The Apprentice under whelmed last night in the first night of its second series. Just over 711,000 watched. That’s a loss of more than 400,000 people on the 1.16 million people who watched the preceding program, Body Work.

Hardly the stuff of a ratings triumph. And with the older audience tuning in next week for This is Your Life, you’d hardly expect them to hang around for a bunch of crass, aggressive, in your face Americans who wannabe Donnie Trump’s Apprentice.

In Sydney Nine won with a 26.7% share from Ten on 24.7% and Seven on 24.5%. The ABC finished with 10.3% and SBS 5.1%.

Kath and Kim was the most watched program in the five major metro markets with 1.759 million viewers. The second episode (repeat) of Law and Order Special Victims Unit (SVU) was second (9.30pm) and the first (8.30pm) was third. Nine News was 4th, Getaway 5th, Home and Away 6th, ACA, Frasier and Body Work next in that order and the ABC 7pm News was 10th.

In Sydney Kath and Kim was first, the 8.30 pm repeat of Law and Order SVU was second, Body Work was third, the second repeat of Law and Order SVU was 4th, Nine News, Getaway and Frasier were next in that order. Home and Away was 8th, RPA was 9th and TheChaser Decides was 10th in its final outing.

Nationally The Chaser Decides finished on a solid 1.095 million average, thanks to following Kath and Kim.

So far as the week is concerned, Nine would have to be favourite with the Superman movie tonight as a tribute to Christopher Reeves and that tired old hack of a movie, Lethal Weapon 2 being trotted out tomorrow night against Ten’s underwhelming Saturday night of crime shows.

Ten still leads the week 28.6% to 27.6% nationally, while in Sydney Ten leads Nine, 29% to 27%.