Peoplemeter Technologies and the Biometric Turn in Audience Measurement

Jennifer Hessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Between 1980 and 1995, audience measurement companies, including Audits of Great Britain (AGB), Nielsen, Percy, and Arbitron, competed to develop peoplemeter technologies, ranging from remote controls to ultrasonic motion detectors, infrared body heat sensors, face scanners, and wearable devices. In this article, I argue that the evolution of peoplemeter technologies during this era was shaped by the inconsistent cooperation of viewers in the task of being measured, resulting in a turn away from active peoplemeters and toward passive peoplemeter methods. In particular, it marked a preoccupation in audience measurement with biometrics, and a constant onslaught of technological experiments in search of a seamless body/machine integration. In the process, the body became itself a technology: one that, if properly disciplined and utilized in the process of commodification, could make viewers more reliable consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-419
Number of pages20
JournalTelevision and New Media
Issue number4
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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