The two-hour taped show that aired Tuesday on CBS was watched by 6 million viewers, compared to the 11.3 million that watched last year, according to Nielsen Media Research figures.
The weak ratings reflect the damage being exacted on the entertainment industry awards season by the two-month-old Writers Guild of America strike. The Golden Globes also canceled its ceremony Sunday on NBC, which instead plans to air a news conference to announce winners.
The guild had refused to grant waivers for its members to work on the awards shows, and the Screen Actors Guild said its members would honor picket lines and refuse to take part, depriving the ceremonies of their all-important star power.
The People's Choice Awards replaced its traditional live show and with a taped format, hosted by Queen Latifah, that had its crews deliver trophies to music, film and television stars on location.
Winners included Johnny Depp of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Katherine Heigl of "Grey's Anatomy."
The guild also has refused to grant a waiver for the premier awards ceremony, February's Oscars. Its producer has vowed to stage the show as planned.
Talks between the guild and the alliance representing producers broke off in December and have yet to resume, with production on dozens of TV shows and some movies brought to a standstill.