Living With Michael Jackson: A Tonight Special, which featured controversial footage of the late singer admitting that he had previously allowed disadvantaged children to share his bed, originally drew around 15 million viewers.
Dominating the 9pm slot was BBC One's New Tricks, which averaged 8.07m (34.2%) with its series six opener. Last year, the first episode of series five took an impressive 9.2m (37.6%), with the series averaging 8.4m (35.8%) across eight episodes.
Five's The Mentalist was affected by the clash, dropping to 1.64m (6.9%), while Gerry's Big Decision managed 1.15m (4.9%) for Channel 4.
Over on BBC Two, the half-hour Mock The Week grabbed 2.42m (10.3%). The audience then dropped to 1.49m (6.3%) during the 9.30pm screening of That Mitchell And Webb Look. Psychoville managed 990k (5%) between 10pm and 10.30pm, the show's lowest audience since it launched four weeks ago.
Earlier, at 8pm, BBC One's Traffic Cops put in 4.49m (21.1%), beating ITV1's The Bill, which had 4.28m (20.1%).
A new BBC Two series, Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey took 2.24m (10.5%), 2.11m (9.9%) tuned in for Channel 4's The Home Show, and Britain's Nazi King - Revealed on Five interested 1.33m (6.2%).
Channel 4's Big Brother highlights show managed 2.15m (12.5%) during the 10pm hour. The equivalent episode from last series, which aired on Thursday, July 17, 2008, was seen by 2.96m (13.5%), representing a decline of 27% year-on-year.
Overall, BBC One came top during primetime with an average share of 27.4% to ITV1's 17.9%. Channel 4 was third with 7.4% (+1: 0.6%), followed by BBC Two with 7.7% and Five's 6%.
Elsewhere, the first part of BBC Three's new series Pregnancy: My Big Decision attracted 737k (3.5%) during the 9pm hour, and ITV2's 10pm screening of the series six opener of Entourage logged a lowly 83k (0.5%).
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional