By Lynette Rice
February 25, 2019 at 02:17 PM EST

The grand experiment to go without a host might have just been a good idea after all: Sunday’s telecast of the Academy Awards averaged 29.6 million viewers — up 11 percent from last year’s telecast (26.5 million).

The three-hour-plus show earned a 7.7 rating among adults 18-49, up 13 percent versus last year’s show when The Shape of Water took home the night’s big prize, according to early national results from Nielsen. ABC says it stands as TV’s most-watched entertainment telecast in two years, besting the 2017 telecast of the Oscars on Feb. 2, 2017 and NBC’s post-Super Bowl telecast of This is Us.

The Oscars also took in 9.7 million more viewers than the Grammy Awards earlier this month (19.9 million) and the Golden Globes by 11 million (18.6 million).

Credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Reviews for the three-hour, 17-minute show were positive. EW TV critic Kristen Baldwin gave it an A-. Mark Harris wrote in Vulture how “the lack of a host never felt acute or troubling (thank you, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, for taking care of our needs early and swiftly).” And THR said that “Sunday’s Oscars telecast definitely confirmed that under the right circumstances, a host isn’t a necessity.”

Here’s how last night show ranks versus previous years:

2019: 29.6 million (Best picture winner: The Green Book)
2018: 26.5 million (Best picture winner: The Shape of Water)
2017: 32.9 million (Moonlight)
2017: 32.9 million (Moonlight)
2016: 34.4 million (Spotlight)
2015: 37.2 million (Birdman)
2014: 43.7 million (12 Years a Slave)
2013: 40.3 million (Argo)
2012: 39.3 million (The Artist)
2011: 37.9 million (The King’s Speech)
2010: 41.7 million (The Hurt Locker)
2009: 36.3 million (Slumdog Millionaire)
2008: 32.0 million (No Country for Old Men)
2007: 40.1 million (The Departed)
2006: 38.9 million (Crash)
2005: 42.1 million (Million Dollar Baby)
2004: 43.5 million (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
2003: 33.0 million (Chicago)
2002: 41.7 million (A Beautiful Mind)
2001: 42.9 million (Gladiator)
2000: 46.3 million (American Beauty)
1999: 45.6 million (Shakespeare in Love)
1998: 55.2 million (Titanic)

Related content: