The first State of Origin Rugby League game tonight means Nine will win the week easily because the game will rate its pants off in Sydney, the country’s biggest market, and Brisbane, the third biggest.

That’s why Seven adjusted its programming last night, switching Blue Heelers from tonight to last night in Brisbane and Sydney. Tonight Seven again screens the movie Pretty Woman to attract female viewers not interested in Rugby League. And Ten has an appalling exploitation reality program program called The $25 Million Hoax, which is reason enough to watch the State of Origin game.

Ten last night went normal with Big Brother, The O.C. and the new Simpsons episode, which was the night’s most watched program. The repeat at 8pm also did well, but the repeat at 6pm was easily beaten by the Nine and Seven news broadcasts. That’s right, 90 minutes of Simpsons, more than Big Brother last night (the crude uncut version went to air at 11.45pm for two hours). Nine went for a repeat of CSI and new double episodes of Frasier, which again did well.

Nine won the night, while losing the news and current affairs battle from 6pm to 7pm nationally and in Sydney. Seven was helped by the surge in the audience for Deal or No Deal at 5.30pm. Its audience topped the 900,000 mark last night, a good boost for the news, especially in Sydney. At 6.30pm, Today Tonight once again beat A Current Affair by 63,000 people nationally (a narrower margin than in recent weeks) and only 15,000 in Sydney. Much closer than before.

Overall Nine won with a 30.4% share, to Seven on 26.4%, Ten on 24.3% and the ABC on 14.1% and SBS on 4.8%.