Aiming to cover all its bases, and upend the current “second screen” hierarchy, FOX’s American Idol announced partnerships with Facebook and Google today to give AI fans new ways to interact with the show during the live finalist performances.
Facebook will power real-time voting progress updates on-air during select live shows. Facebook’s on-air visuals will let viewers see how finalists are faring in the voting for the first time.
Facebook has been making a play for second screen viewers for some time now, but the real-time data angle is a newer tactic for the company. You can tell from the official statement that Facebook has got bigger plans in mind.
“Integrating content from Facebook into AMERICAN IDOL’s live broadcast brings a new dimension to the viewing experience and enhances the connection fans have with the show and its contestants. With nearly 11 million fans of AMERICAN IDOL on Facebook, and all of the conversations people are already having on Facebook around live television events, there is an endless amount of creative potential through our partnership. We’re very much looking forward to seeing that creativity come to life on and off Facebook throughout this season,” said Justin Osofsky, VP of Media Partnerships and Global Operations for Facebook.
Google’s piece in this is even more involved. The search giant will power an online voting platform that allows viewers to cast their votes directly from Google.com or the Google Search app on iOS and Android devices. The second screen experience will work on desktops, tablets and smartphones by searching for “american idol”, “idol” or “american idol voting”.
Viewers will not only be racking up visits to Google.com, voters will need to log-in with a Gmail account to vote, up to 50 times, and will be able to share their votes, follow contestants and more on Google+.
This is Google’s first go at acting as an online voting platform, and could point to both new avenues for grabbing second screen attention as well as more expanded partnerships like the one it has struck with FOX that go beyond traditional search and display advertising.
Ahead of tonight’s broadcast, Google is displaying a sponsored Knowledge panel above the organic listings and to the left of the traditional Knowledge graph information on the right of the screen. The Sponsored notice reads, “Google has partnered with FOX to be one of the official voting channels for American Idol.”
We asked Google whether money was being exchanged in this deal. “Google isn’t paying, or being paid, to provide the online voting option. FOX is mentioning Google’s name during the show and you may see the word ‘Sponsored’ next to the online voting option or information in search, indicating that this feature is part of our partnership with FOX,” said Google PR spokesperson Roya Soleimani.
Whether you call it an ad or sponsored content, this is a new venture for Google that paves the way for more deals of this sort. It’s unclear if other advertisers will be able to be seen on the Idol search results during the voting to capitalize on all the extra impressions, but we’ll know more for tomorrow.
So where does this leave Twitter? Twitter has long been the second screen darling and American Idol’s main partner during live shows. It continues to play a role, but today’s announcement leaves Twitter to languish in the closing lines of the press release with no formal involvement detailed. We’ve asked Twitter for comment. These new deals will put a squeeze on Twitter’s second screen real estate, and show that both Facebook and Google are making their cases for a cut of the action.