By Lynette Rice
Updated November 11, 2010 at 05:12 PM EST

Image Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABCABC came out on top Wednesday for doling out trophies on the 44th Annual Country Music Association Awards. The network finished the night with a 4.7 rating/13 share among adults 18-49 and averaged 16.4 million viewers, with the three-hour kudofest attracting its largest audience during the 9 p.m. hour (17.1 million). The show hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood was still down 11 percent in the demo from last season, however, and represents the show’s lowest-rated telecast ever, according to early returns.

Fox and CBS were tied for second place among 18-49 (2.7/7 versus 2.7/8). Hell’s Kitchen returned after a three-week hiatus because of baseball and earned a 2.7/7 and 5.6 million viewers. Survivor: Nicaragua earned a 3.2/9 and 11.2 million, followed by Criminal Minds (3.0/8, 12.4 million) and The Defenders (1.8/5, 8.3 million).

NBC was third for the night with a 1.6/5 (yikes). Undercovers earned a 1.2/4 (hate to hit a canceled show when it’s already down but that’s its lowest-rated telecast ever) and averaged 5.0 million, followed by Law & Order: SVU (2.0/5, 7.1 million), and Law & Order: LA (1.7/5, 6.7 million). The L&O franchise needs a decent lead-in, stat.

In the total viewer race, CBS came in second for the night behind ABC with 10.6 million, followed by NBC (6.3 million), Fox (5.7 million), Univision (3.9 million) and the CW (2. million).