Show earned 20 million viewers overall

The Golden Globes continued its modest ratings rally Monday, winning the night for NBC with the show’s best numbers in three years.

The kudocast at one point was closing the ratings gap with the Oscars, but then took a step back a few years ago and was forced to shift nights when it hit a ratings low opposite brutal Sunday competish.

This year’s ratings results suggest it has found a nice home on Monday.

Opposite tough competish from Fox’s second night of a two-part “24” season premiere, the Globes averaged a preliminary 6.5 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 20 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m., leading in all key age categories, while also dominating among women. (Numbers could be adjusted slightly in the nationals, since the show ran until 11:08 p.m.)

It was up slightly from last year’s 6.3 demo rating, and the all-time NBC low of 5.7 in 2005. In overall total viewers, a category that benefits from population increases, this year’s 20 million is up from the 18.8 million of last year and 16.8 million of 2005.

It was three years ago — its last airing on a Sunday — that the Globes peaked with 26.8 million viewers.

The Globes stand as the season’s No. 1 awards show, although the Grammy Awards on CBS likely will top it, and the Academy Awards on ABC two weeks later could double it.

This year’s Globes may have been boosted by two popular movies: “Borat” and its star Sacha Baron Cohen, and “Dreamgirls,” which featured former “American Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson. In the musical/comedy category, Cohen won for lead actor; Hudson won for supporting actress in a film.

The kudocast peaked in the 10 o’clock half-hour, in which Cohen accepted his trophy, with about 21.6 million viewers. That half-hour is typically the most-watched, though, and was helped out again this year with the release of the “24” aud at 10 o’clock.

Show dropped to 18.9 million viewers in the 10:30 half-hour.

Looking at the two-hour red carpet pre-Globes specs on cable, E! again led the way with a 2.1 household rating in the metered markets, while TV Guide Channel earned a 0.7. Both nets were up a tick vs. last year.

As for Fox’s “24,” its second night averaged a prelim 5.9/13 in 18-49 (down a tick from last year) and 15.7 million viewers overall, up from 14.9 million a year ago.

It opened with a 5.7 demo rating from 8 to 9 and rose to a 6.5 in its second hour. For its two hours, Fox was the No. 1 net in all the male demos, including 18-49 (6.4/16).

Beginning next week, the returning “Prison Break” will lead into “24,” which will again air regularly at 9.

ABC also had something to crow about as “Wife Swap” (prelim 3.7/9 in 18-49, 8.5 million) and “Supernanny” (prelim 3.9/9, 9.0 million) achieved season highs. But it remained slow going at 10 for drama “What About Brian” (prelim 2.2/5, 4.8 million).

CBS aired mostly repeats, led by “CSI: Miami” (prelim 3.5/9, 11.9 million) and “Two and a Half Men” (prelim 3.5/8, 11.3 million).

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Fox has firmed up its midseason sked, finding homes for new skeins “Drive,” “The Winner” and “The Wedding Bells.”

Net will premiere “The Winner” on Sunday, March 4, with a special airing in the plum post-“The Simpsons” time slot (pre-empting “King of the Hill”). It will return an hour later, at 9:30 p.m., in what will be its normal home (behind “Family Guy”).

“The Winner,” from exec producers Ricky Blitt and Seth MacFarlane, stars Rob Corddry as a thirtysomething loser who tries to better his life.

Also in March (on a date still to be determined), the David E. Kelley nuptuals drama “The Wedding Bells” will launch on Fridays at 9 p.m. Show will air following the return of frosh skein “Standoff,” which moves to Fridays at 8.

Meanwhile, Fox will launch the Tim Minear/Ben Queen car race drama “Drive” on Mondays at 8 p.m. starting April 16. Show will actually debut the previous night, Sunday, April 15, with a special two-hour premiere episode.

“Drive” takes over for “Prison Break,” which will conclude its second season on Monday, April 2. (A “House” repeat will air the following week.)

In other Fox sked news, the Brad Garrett laffer “‘Til Death” moves to Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. (behind the “American Idol” results show) starting March 14.

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