Neil Patrick Harris

They weren't quite legendary, but the early ratings for the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted 61st Primetime Emmys show marked improvement from a year ago.

2009 Emmys Gallery: Check out all the red carpet hits and misses

The three-hour telecast drew 13.3 million viewers, a 9 percent increase over the 2008 awards, which was the least-watched Emmys broadcast since 1990. Host and producer Harris earned almost universal praise for keeping the show lively and on-time, a stark difference from the show's five-host format a year ago.

See our Top Moments from the Emmys broadcast

The night's overall winner was NBC's coverage of the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys NFL game. The game, which unveiled the new $1.2 billion Cowboys' Stadium, was watched by 22.4 million viewers and earned the highest overnight rating for a prime-time football game in 11 years.

Among Fox's animated repeats, Family Guy and The Simpsons performed best with 5.5 million viewers each in their respective timeslots. ABC's airing of King Kong earned only 3.9 million viewers overall.