Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards on CBS.

Neil Patrick Harris was host of the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards on CBS. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Maybe it was the upsets, or maybe it was the "in memoriam" tributes. But whatever it was, Sunday's Emmy Awards show on CBS posted its highest ratings in years. 

On a night filled with TV competition, the live three-hour ceremony hosted by Neil Patrick Harris delivered roughly 15.2 million total viewers, according to early Nielsen numbers. (More accurate figures will arrive later Monday.) 

Last year, the ABC telecast hosted by Jimmy Kimmel ended up drawing 13.2 million. 

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Among 18- to 49-year-olds -- the demographic the TV industry cares most about -- the telecast was up 30% compared with last year and had its best number since 2007. 

However, CBS had a little help. A high-rated NFL game between the Jets and the Bills ran later than expected, forcing the ceremony to begin three minutes past the scheduled 8 p.m. EDT start. The Emmy numbers drifted downward throughout the night as football viewers slowly drifted away. 

But the ratings were still pretty good considering the heavy competition. NBC ran its own high-rated football game between the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers, AMC had the next-to-last episode of "Breaking Bad" and Showtime aired the series finale of "Dexter."

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The Emmy telecast was marked by a series of upsets, including Jeff Daniels' acting win for HBO's "The Newsroom," beating out Kevin Spacey in Netflix's "House of Cards" and Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad."

For the first time, the telecast also featured expanded "in memoriam" tributes for departed TV luminaries such as James Gandolfini and Jean Stapleton.

What did you think of the Emmys?

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