Idol on iTunes
The many folks that bring us American Idol have finally cut a deal with Apple to put show performances on iTunes, a deal I think is genius from all angles and a long-time coming.
Audio performances by the top 24 will be available starting this week for the standard 99 cents per song, while full video of the Top 12 will be available for $1.99 starting March 11. Fans can also pre-order performances of their favorites. All performances will be available the day after the show airs.
Fans can go directly to iTunes or be taken there from the American Idol web site, where Apple now will have a large branded presence.
In addition, Apple is becoming a premiere sponsor of the show, joining Ford, AT&T and Coca-Cola and marking the first addition of a premiere sponsor since season two. iTunes will be the show’s exclusive download provider, and in-show call-outs – largely from Ryan Seacrest, I expect – will drive viewers to iTunes. Apple iPod and iTouch will become the show’s official MP3 player, while the iPhone will become its official phone handset, all of which will be placed within the show throughout the season.
I’m sure the long delay (this is the show’s seventh season) in what seems to be the most obvious of deals had to do with legal issues such as music clearances and affiliate approvals, but I’ve always thought this was a great idea. There are plenty of rabid Idol fans who would likely love nothing more than to watch their favorites over and over. I’m sure Sanjaya still has fans that would be thrilled to see his awesome performances and hairstyles again, and why shouldn’t Fox continue to make money off that guy?
This is probably not what Idol producers had in mind, but it also allows people like me – who don’t really want to spend an entire hour watching the show but are curious about certain buzz-worthy performances – to consume as much or as little Idol as we want. Unlike most TV shows, Idol is set up perfectly to deliver an ideal YouTube experience, and even better, it comes with a revenue model attached. Delivering just small bites of Idol could lead even more people to want to watch the entire show, while even more thoroughly engaging the die-hards.
This doesn’t seem to be on the table, but I also think Fox and Fremantle also should offer archival Idol footage via iTunes. It’s practically a free way for the companies to develop yet another revenue stream out of Idol.