‘American Idol’ Enabling Facebook Voting

 
“American Idol,” one of the most-watched television shows in the U.S., will make it possible for fans to vote via Facebook for the best performers starting March 1.

The move, first reported by an Entertainment Weekly blog, seems brilliantly beneficial to all parties involved. The current voting by toll-free numbers costs a fortune to offer — no matter which party foots the bill — plus it requires the studio to work with a telecommunications provider that can rapidly scale up apace with the whims of eight-digits worth of cell-phone equipped viewers.
Adding Facebook voting would likely foster more participation in the voting — it certainly makes sense for “American Idol” to limit each viewer to a maximum of 50 votes per show, but that could be more voting than most fans can achieve via telephone.
For the studio, the addition of Facebook voting seems like it would alleviate stress for the telecom gurus; even if the studio outsources telephone voting, usually there’s still someone inhouse held accountable for the relationship with the outsourcer. Plus the cost savings would be huge, although apparently some of that is paid for in the form of free advertising; still, if the studio can give out less free advertising, that’s more airtime to sell to paying advertisers.
Now the Facebook voting won’t replace votes via cell phone calls and text messages. Viewers will still be able to vote via text messaging and toll-free phone calls as well. So I’m curious to learn how much of the votes will happen online versus via phone.
What do you think about “American Idol” beginning to accept votes via Facebook? Will this inaugurate a trend that other reality television shows will embrace?

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