Event averaged 26.7 mil viewers overall

The Golden Globes re-established itself as a ratings dynamo Sunday night, attracting the kudocast’s largest audience ever on NBC.

One year after it was tackled for a loss opposite CBS’ coverage of the American Football Conference championship game, the “61st Annual Golden Globe Awards” on NBC matched a five-year high in adults 18-49 (9.9 rating/23 share) and averaged a big 26.7 million viewers overall, according to preliminary Nielsen nationals.

This would make it the largest audience on record for the Globes, which didn’t become a television event until NBC took over from cabler TBS as network host in 1995. Prior to this year, the biggest previous tune-in came in 1998 (24.3 million).

It’s also the closest the Globes have been in ratings relative to the Academy Awards: Last March on ABC, the Oscars averaged a record-low 33 million viewers. This year’s Academy Awards air just five weeks after the Globes, on Feb. 29 — in the February sweep.

ABC and new Oscarcast producer Joe Roth are said to be mounting an all-out marketing blitz following last year’s low ratings. Roth said last week that he had lined up several unprecedented marketing campaigns for the Feb. 29 show.

The return of Billy Crystal as host should help, as should the expected nomination windfall for the popular concluding chapter of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. (Big movies tend to boost viewership for kudocasts, something that may have benefited NBC’s Globe telecast Sunday).

The Alphabet itself seems intent on boosting its on-air circulation prior to the Oscars, skedding the five-night return of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” for the days leading up to the big night.

Compared with last year, when one of the year’s biggest football games aired directly opposite it, Sunday’s Globescast was up by 27% in adults 18-49 and matched its best result in five years (9.9/22 in 2001). In overall audience, this year’s 26.7 million is up a big 33% from last year’s 20.1 million.

NBC estimates well over 50 million watched at least some of the Globes on Sunday.

In local metered-market overnight numbers, Los Angeles delivered a 19.7 household rating/30 share, with New York pitching in with an 18.3/25.

For the night, NBC rolled in all key categories, topping the combined ABC-CBS-Fox averages during the kudocast from 8 to 11. The “Golden Globes Arrival Special” from 7 to 8 averaged a 4.4/12 in 18-49 and was up 57% vs. last year.

Over on cabler E!, its two-hour “Red Carpet” spec, hosted by Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers, delivered a solid 2.84 overnight household rating in the metered markets, according to Nielsen — up nearly 50% from last year. Top local scores came from San Francisco (5.67 rating) and Los Angeles (4.90).

Opposite the Globes, CBS drama “Cold Case” performed well at 8 (prelim 3.9/9 in 18-49, 15.6 million), matching or setting some demo highs.

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