When Fox confirmed recently that AT&T, which had been one of the main sponsors of the singing competition since Season 2, will not return for the current 13th season, the move appeared to be a sign of the times. Phoning and texting, the primary way of audience voting a decade ago, have been pushed out by online voting, which American Idol has been doing for the past couple of seasons. Now the show has brought in Internet juggernauts Google and Facebook to handle voting this season and is introducing real-time results — months before the premiere of Rising Star on ABC, whose format is built around that. As part of the new partnerships, voting on Idol will begin at the beginning of the live shows as opposed to after the broadcast as was the practice for the first 12 seasons.
Google will provide an online voting platform that allows viewers to cast votes directly from Google Search. Meanwhile, Facebook will give on-air voting progress updates based on real-time East Coast voting data during select live shows. That will include demographic voting trends and relative contestant rankings. While not exactly mirroring Rising Star‘s model of contestants being able to see their voting tally as they perform, Idol is jumping in front of the trend of reporting voting as it happens in real time. One of Rising Star‘s biggest challenges has been incorporating Mountain and Pacific time zones in the real-time voting, something Idol is bypassing by only including East Coast voting results/trends.
While embracing new ways of voting, Idol is not ditching the old fashioned ones. Here is a list of the 5 voting methods for Season 13: 1) Google Search; 2) online at AmericanIdol.com; 3) American Idol App; 4) text messaging; and 5) toll-free calling.