3RD UPDATE; 11:59 AM: CBS pulled off a great football-to-Emmy viewer conversion Sunday night. Just over 19 million people were watching national football play on the network between 7:30 and 8 PM last night, after which the network immediately went to the Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast, which started about 3 minutes late and averaged nearly 18 mil. It’s been years since the Emmycast got kissed by a football game like this. Last year, when the Emmy Awards aired on ABC and clocked 13 million viewers, its lead-in was a red-carpet arrivals show that averaged a pathetic 5.6 million viewers. The year before that, on Fox, the trophy show averaged 12.4 million, after a red-carpet arrivals show that averaged an only slightly less pathetic 6.1 million viewers. Hopefully this drives stake through red carpet shows. Can we all agree that the way to fix the Emmy Awards ratings woes is not to single out token deceased industry VIPs who represent various demographic groups and who mentored stars who have new series about to debut on broadcast networks, but to dump red-carpet arrival shows in favor of football?

In ’10, the Emmycast, on NBC, got moved to Monday night to get out of the way of that network’s football commitments. In ’09, when the Emmys last aired on CBS, the network had a national football game that night, and it averaged more than 18 million viewers. Sadly, the game ended at 7:33 PM, after which a quick post-game yak-fest slipped to 15.5 million, then and a truncated 60 Minutes brought the number down to 13.1 million. That year’s Emmy ceremony averaged 13.5 million viewers.

2ND UPDATE, 10:55 AM: Nearly 18 million viewers watched last night’s 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards — the trophy show’s biggest audience since 2005 and about 4.4 million viewers better than last year. The CBS franchise also jumped 26% in the demo (4.9 rating) compared to last year to nail Emmys’ best demo ratings since 2006. The Emmycast also delivered a 5.8 in adults 25-54 — up 21% — and 4.5 in adults 18-34 — up 50%, which may put to rest complaints about Cory Monteith having been included in the list of recently deceased industry notables who received very special tributes.

The Emmycast clocked its biggest overall audience since September 18, 2005, when it also aired on CBS and that was back in the days when it did not compete with Sunday Night Football on NBC, CBS noted this morning.

CBS Research estimates approximately 40 million viewers watched all or part of the trophy show. In broadcast, that reach stat includes anyone who watched at least six minutes. So much for all that chatter about how the Emmycast was going to get nicked in the ratings by the penultimate episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad, Showtime’s Dexter finale and, of course, NBC’s Sunday football.

Related: AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ Breaks More Ratings Records

Related: Showtime’s ‘Dexter’ Series Finale & ‘Ray Donovan’ Season Ender Hit Highs

UPDATE, 9:15 AM: Fast national numbers — not time-zone adjusted — give last night’s Primetime Emmy Awards telecast an average crowd of 15.3 million viewers. But that number includes a football overrun and does not include the Emmy overrun — and the Emmys were trending down at a healthy clip toward the end. The ceremony ran 15 minutes long. Those fast nationals have the Emmycast clocking a 4.3 rating in the demo. That would mean a 30% spike, compared to last year’s final trophy show numbers. NBC’s Sunday Night Football outscored the Emmy ceremony, with nearly 19 million viewers and a 6.9 rating in the demo, according to fast nationals.

PREVIOUS, 8:08 PM: Last night’s Primetime Emmy Awards posted the highest local ratings in seven years, according to very early Nielsen stats. In the preliminary metered markets, from 8-11:15 PM, CBS’ broadcast of the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards clocked a household 12.1/19, which is up by double-digit percentages compared to a year ago (9.6/15). BIG QUALIFIER: Due to late-running football on CBS and with the trophy show airing live across the country, these numbers are not so reliable as will be more telling numbers that are time-zone adjusted. They will be delayed until later today. Those fast-national ratings issued at 11 AM by Nielsen are not time adjusted.

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