Google and Facebook Partner with American Idol

As American Idol enters its fourteenth season, its producers have implemented some technological changes which should enhance the viewer experience. The singing talent show has been a ratings leader, typically ranking as the most or second most watched network program for the majority of the years it has aired. The show has faltered somewhat in the past couple of seasons as judges have been replaced and the singing talent has been less inspiring. This emphasis on regaining the top spot may have been a strong motivation for the shows producers to revamp the format and add technological platforms.

These platforms are being provided by two of the biggest organisations in the high tech sector: Google and Facebook. Google announced in anticipation of the fourteenth season premier in February of 2014, that it would serve as an official voting platform for the show. Prior to this season, voting was primarily by phone—voice or text message—in the hours during and immediately following the show. Phone votes reached a peak of 750 million by season ten, and text votes peaked at 178 million in season eight. The phone services for American Idol were primarily provided by AT&T, but this partnership ended in 2012. Online voting was introduced in season ten.

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Google hopes to broaden the online voting activity by introducing a variety of features which should appeal to American Idol viewers. The world’s foremost search engine will help internet users who wish to interact with the American Idol program through a more dynamic and responsive format. Each viewer will have the option to cast up to 50 votes for their Idol favourite. This is comparable to the number of votes that could be cast through phone and text. The online voting option is accompanied by a wider voting window; voting can begin from the start of the show, rather than its finale. They can also join other American Idol viewers on the social media site Google Plus, where they can participate in online discussions and video conversations designated as Hangouts.

The other major partner that American Idol has brought on board is Facebook. Facebook will be the primary vote counter for the show. In addition to showing tallies of each contestant’s votes, the social media giant will display a variety of analytic s including demographic voting information and relative contestant rankings throughout the show and the hours following. This minute-to-minute coverage is intended to provide more in-depth information for viewers which will inspire additional devotion to the show.

American Idol has long been a prime time network champion for Fox, but its slipping ratings have suggested that retooling is necessary to maintain public interest. New producers were installed at the close of season 13, while new judges were set to take the place of last year’s celebrity reviewers. This new collaboration with Google and Facebook are likely are a product of the recognition that this ageing show needs to integrate the technological channels that younger viewers are most comfortable using.

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