Like many other shows, American Idol has long incorporated Twitter hashtags into its viewing experience, but the popular singing contest is about to take its social media campaign one step further, with the introduction of real-time Twitter polls. This Wednesday, the show will begin incorporating onscreen polls about contestant performances and judges' decisions, while receiving feedback through Twitter.
As the New York Times reports, a sample question would ask "Do you agree with the judges tonight?", followed by two hashtags. Twitter users can respond with either hashtag (affirmative or negative), thereby enhancing viewer engagement and giving Idol's producers potentially valuable feedback. Poll results will be displayed and updated onscreen in real-time, with graphics created by FremantleMedia.
"The audience loves to affect the show in some meaningful way."
Fox says this so-called "fan meter" will provide insight from Idol's most devoted fans — a demographic of particular interest to advertisers. The show continues to see stellar ratings, averaging about 16 million viewers an episode, but its audience has shrunk by 50 percent since its high point in 2006, and the average fan is getting older. Tapping into Twitter and its generally younger user base could help regain some of that coveted 18-to-49 year old demographic. It could also help win back some of the estimated millions who record the show every week, rather than watch it live.
"One of the things we’ve learned is that the audience loves to affect the show in some meaningful way," Twitter head of television Fred Graver told the Times. "The audience gets to not only choose the winner, but there are tons of side bets they can participate in via Twitter along the way that add dimension to the entire experience."