Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin

The 82nd Academy Awards drew its largest audience since 2005, capping off an awards season that saw ratings growth for every major awards show.

See our take on the Oscars' top moments

The Oscars were watched by 41.3 million viewers, improving 13 percent over last year's audience and posting significant gains for the second year in a row, according to Nielsen estimates. The telecast clobbered the competition, which mostly consisted of repeats or movies.

Before the Oscars, Barbara Walters' final Oscars special drew 15 million viewers, its biggest audience since 2002. The half-hour red carpet show drew its largest audience (25.1 million viewers) in three years.

Check out Oscars red carpet hits and misses

Fox's hourlong blocks of reruns of The Simpsons (4.9 million viewers) and Family Guy (5.6 million viewers) came in second for the night among 18-to-49-year-olds.

CBS placed third in the demo, but drew the most viewers behind ABC. A new Amazing Race pulled in 8.5 million viewers, while repeats of Undercover Boss and Cold Case were watched by 6.5 million viewers and 5.4 million viewers, respectively.

On NBC, a half-hour Dateline drew 6.1 million viewers at 8/7c. An airing of Bad Boys II covered the rest of the network's prime-time schedule, averaging 3 million viewers.