Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner

The 37th People's Choice Awards were not the people's first choice on TV.

The populist awards show, airing 9-11 p.m. on CBS, averaged less than 10 million, down 21 percent from last year.

Check out red carpet arrivals from the 2011 People's Choice Awards

The Middle took the first hour of Wednesday's prime time, attracting 9.3 million viewers. Paula Abdul's Live to Dance dropped off precipitously to 7.8 million viewers — from the10.2 million it got the night before. Minute to Win It and Human Target won over 6.8 million and 6.2 million viewers, respectively, and a Hellcats rerun pulled in a million. At 8:30, Better With You garnered 7.4 million.

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At 9, Modern Family got the highest viewership of the night: 11.8 million. At 9:30, Cougar Town proved to be a major tune-out — 6.6 million. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit averaged some 10.7 million over its two hours. A second Hellcats repeat got 813,000.

All of ABC's comedies were up 12 to 17 percent since their last first-run episodes in early December.

In prime time's last hour Wednesday, an ABC special on celebrity weight loss, competing again the second hour of the awards show and L&O: SVU, pulled up the rear with 4.4 million.

On cable Tuesday night, the critical darling — oh, and isn't that the kiss of death? — Southland got 2.11 million total viewers, but plummeted to a series-low 885,000 among 18-to-49-year-olds for its Season 3 opener.