More than 17 million viewers watched the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, earning this year’s award show the distinction of drawing a larger crowd than in previous years, but it stopped short of setting a new record.

USA Today, citing early Nielsen estimates, reported that the three-hour-plus program averaged 17.6 million viewers, 32 percent more than last year's 13.3 million viewers. The Emmys had its biggest turnout in 2005 when 18.5 million people tuned in to watch the award show.

The report noted that while there is no concrete explanation for the increase in viewership, an NFL game between the Jets and the Bills that preceded the show, and which ran later than expected, is said to have boosted the show’s opening hour. And, tributes to James Gandolfini, Jean Stapleton and Cory Monteith were also contributing factors to the show’s increased viewership.

While the viewership boost is indeed good news for CBS, which aired the award show, the 2013 Emmy Award show in itself was considered drab. Critics were left unimpressed by Neil Patrick Harris’ hosting skills, although this was the “How I Met Your Mother” actor’s second stint as an Emmy host.

“The Emmycast began uncertainly with a pre-taped intro that found Harris attempting to binge-watch the entire past season of TV to prepare for the big night, surrounded by dozens of screens in a mash-up of prime-time programming. It didn't work as a comic bit,” an Associated Press review noted.

The sections where Harris was interrupted by previous hosts of the Emmy Awards, which include Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, didn’t win points with critics, with AP pointing out that “it seemed to never end, and mostly stirred memories of unsuccessful bygone hosting displays best left forgotten.”

On the Twittersphere, too, the Emmys weren’t a hit.

Piers Morgan tweeted, "Zzzzzzzz (again) #Emmys," and “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison said, "#CBS is killing it tonight, no seriously you're killing the #Emmys."