"The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards" had 14 percent more viewers than last year's show. The three-hour shindig won its time slot and drew 16.9 million viewers, beating an audience of 14.9 million viewers in 2009.
Photos: Golden Globe Couples
Photos: Movie Stars on the Red Carpet
Photos: TV Stars on the Red Carpet
Photos: Ceremony Highlights
Photos: Focus on Fashion
Photos: Golden Globe Winners
Golden Globes Honor Scorsese
Originating from Los Angeles at 5 p.m. local time, the event was aired live by NBC in all time zones, rather than delayed for prime-time broadcast in the West, as in past years.
But even with the audience upswing, viewership remained far below the biggest year for the show. In 2004, 26.8 million viewers tuned in.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association bestows the awards for achievements in television and motion pictures.
Two years ago, the awards were slammed by the Hollywood writers strike, which left the broadcast a shell of itself: a laundry list of the winners read aloud, devoid of glitz, celebrities or ceremony. Only 6 million viewers bothered to watch.
Sunday's show got a mixed reaction from critics, as did the performance of its first host in 15 years.
"Not a great night for Ricky Gervais," wrote Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara, citing the British actor-comedian.
But she added that almost every winner (with the exception of multiple "Avatar" honoree James Cameron, who, on stage, was as vocally focused on his over-full bladder as his trophies) displayed "an air of grateful humility."
The modesty that seemed to rule the evening represented a downside for some observers, who love the Globes for its customary boozed-up party mood.
Maybe last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti kept things more sober than usual.
"There were smiles and costly dresses and showy jewelry," wrote The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley, "but the festivities never really got off the ground, perhaps weighed down by an overlay of unease."
Or maybe, for better or worse, the Golden Globes have gone straight.
"Perhaps it's finally time the Golden Globes stops cultivating a reputation as a wild and woolly affair," wrote The Hollywood Reporter's Andrew Wallenstein, who called Sunday's show "leaden even by Oscar standards, weighed down by surprisingly uninspired hosting from Ricky Gervais."