Apparently, Hobbit fans like to watch.

Ratings for NBC's telecast of the 61st annual Golden Globe Awards, in which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was crowned four times, were decidedly royal, with the three-hour show averaging 26.8 million viewers.

That's the biggest Globes audience in NBC's nine years of broadcasting the event. And it represents an increase of 6.7 million viewers from last year.

The trophy fest, featuring big, familiar faces such as Diane Keaton, Bill Murray, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, was the fourth-most watched show of the prime-time week ended Sunday, per Nielsen Media Research.

NBC's hourlong, preshow arrivals special walked in another 13.1 million (17th place), up some 4 million sets of eyeballs from 2003. Ratings for E! Entertainment Television's red-carpet coverage, with Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers, were said to be up 50 percent in overnight markets. (E! Online is a division of E! Networks.)

Still, not everyone was pleased. The Los Angeles Times branded the no-host Globes show "decorous, even dull." (In its ratings release, NBC preferred the adjective "dazzling.")

Elsewhere: Fox's American Idol ruled. Monday's audition special was the week's second-most-watched show (29 million). Tuesday's audition special was the week's third-most-watched show (28.6 million). Wednesday's audition special was the week's most-watched show (29.4 million). Final numbers were not yet in on how big an ego boost Simon Cowell got out of all this. Following Monday's Idol, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé got off to a fast start--19.6 million, eighth place. Following Wednesday's Idol, The O.C. moved up to the top 20 (19th place, 12.7 million). Donald Trump's The Apprentice got shown the door in a Wednesday-night showdown with Idol, falling from the top 10 to 20th place, with 12.3 million viewers. (Accordingly, NBC rerouted The Apprentice to Idol-free Thursdays.) ABC's The Bachelorette did okay (23rd place, 11.6 million), but NBC's Average Joe: Hawaii did even better (22nd place, 11.7 million)--the week's most-watched dating show. A pair of back-to-back Friends repeats averaged a whopping 20.8 million viewers on Thursday night. CBS' Star Search is still searching for its Idol-sized audience--61st place, 7.4 million. On the WB, an Everwood episode dedicated to the memory of guest-star Kellie Waymire was watched by 5.5 million (83rd place). Waymire died last November at age 36. Fox's on-suspension Boston Public didn't make a good case for its reinstatement--88th place, 5.2 million. Overall, Fox was the week's most-watched network, averaging 12.8 million viewers. Still, despite Idol's dominance, Fox's win was a slim one over CBS, which averaged 12.7 million.

NBC trailed with 11.3 million; ABC brought up the rear with 7.5 million.

The WB topped UPN, averaging 4.1 million viewers to the latter's 3.5 million.

Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 29.4 million viewers
2. American Idol (Monday), Fox, 29 million
3. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 28.6 million
4. 61st Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 26.8 million
5. Friends (8 p.m., Thursday), NBC, 20.8 million
6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 20.72 million
7. Friends (8:32 p.m., Thursday), NBC, 20.7 million
8. My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, Fox, 19.6 million
9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 16.3 million
10. 60 Minutes, CBS, 15.8 million

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