The award show's creator was Bob Stivers, who produced the first show in 1975. The first awards recognized The Sting as Favorite Picture of 1974, Barbra Streisand as the year's Favorite Film Actress, and John Wayne as its Favorite Film Actor. Ratings for the annual event peaked in 1977, when the third People's Choice Awards attracted 35.3 million viewers who witnessed Farrah Fawcett win the award for Favorite Female TV Star, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope win as the Favorite Picture, and Streisand and Wayne win again in the Film Actress and Actor categories.
Procter & Gamble, the show's only sponsor, bought the show from Stivers in 1982. Apart from the required local advertising and network promotional time, all advertising during the awards show is solely by P&G brands.
In the 20th century, the awards were based on results from Gallup polls. Each year, Gallup took a survey of different categories for favorite actor, actress, movie, artist, television program or group. The scope was unlimited—the public could choose whomever or whatever it liked. The results of the annual survey were announced in the form of the People's Choice Awards. Since polls have margins of error, many years' awards have had ties in at least one category, when Gallup declared that the voting was so close that a single winner could not be chosen. For instance, in 2003, both Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring were recognized as Favorite Motion Picture.
Switch to online voting
The winners of the 31st People's Choice Awards (on January 9, 2005) were decided by online voting rather than Gallup polls. The nominees submitted for Internet voting were selected using an unpublished process involving editors at Entertainment Weekly, the show's production team and a panel of pop culture fans.
The nominees for the 32nd People's Choice Awards were determined by the web research company Knowledge Networks, which took a nationally representative sample of men and women ages 18 to 54, with and without Internet access, to come up with the nominees. After being presented with a list of candidates determined by national ratings averages, box office grosses and album sales, they had the option to write in their favorites. Knowledge Networks recruits its panel by using a RDD phone recruitment method and provides a web TV and Internet access to households without Internet access enabling them to infer back to the entire population.
The nominees for the 2010 People's Choice Awards were determined by the media research company Visible Measures, which specializes in measuring Internet video audience behavior. The announcement of this partnership stated,
"For the first time ever, the People’s Choice Awards has incorporated Internet video viewing data into the initial nominee selection process, depending on Visible Measures’ True Reach metrics to objectively measure online video popularity. [...] Visible Measures worked with the People’s Choice Awards to determine each potential nominees’ popularity on a True Reach basis, a unique measure of the total audience that has been exposed to an online video campaign – regardless of how widely the campaign spreads or where it appears. To measure True Reach, Visible Measures deploys a robust and patented set of technologies with the goal of capturing the universe of Internet video viewership data in near real-time."