Friday, May 26, 2006

why american idol is so popular

It's the most popular show in North America, and nothing else even comes close.

It embarrassed the Grammies this year when the two were aired on the same night, and in the finale the other day, 63.4 million votes came pouring in to help decide a winner. As Ryan Seacrest announced on the show, that's more votes than any Presidential candidate in the history of the U.S. (Watch the language there, more than any one candidate; not more than the whole election)

Some fans have bragged about voting as many as 100 times each, making some people think that the number of votes is somehow less relevant. I disagree. My wife and I have watched every season, but have yet to vote. WE DO however share our opinions back-and-forth and try to predict what the voting outcome will be. And thanks(?) to her diligence, we hardly ever miss an episode.

Why? Why would I, being of sane mind and body, tune into American Idol along with millions of others, helping make it more of a cultural phenomenon than just another TV show?

Because American Idol does what every other company on the planet should be doing. It gives the audience a voice. It brings them into the discussion, and make their opinions matter.

Taylor Hicks' soulful swagger and Katherine McPhee's physical attributes aside, the reason why fans are so rabid for the show and have put it on top is because it's interactive. As consumers, we want to be involved. We want to be heard. At the very least, we want some proof that our opinions and feedback aren't just falling on deaf ears.

It gives us something to think about when we're running our own businesses:

How can you invent a model that will work in your company? To involve the most loyal of your customers, bring them into the discussion and reap the benefits of their feedback and conversation?

Want people to tell ten friends about your business? Give them something to talk about. Sometimes all you have to do is talk to them at all, (and listen!) and the rest will take care of itself.

Idol fans Bonus link:: JD has made peace with Kellie Pickler, and she wrote back!


At 11:01 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head. Sure, Americans used to love to watch Star Search, but in the end, the fates of the contestants laid in the hand of a panel of judges, none of whom anyone cared about.

Idol, on the other hand, starts out by painting a family portrait. We're introduced to the proud mama Paula, the stern father Simon, and the goofy uncle Randy. And then we meet their children, a motley cast of throwaways and the occasional talent. Once the good kids are culled from the herd (with an occasional controversial pick just to spark water cooler talks), we begin to get to know them and get inside their heads. They talk to us, involve us, suck us into their fan clubs... and then, one by one, we decide their fates.

And each contestant is interactive on AND off the show. Where I might have difficulty scheduling a time to interview ONE cast member of Desperate Housewives, I can drop an email to Kellie Pickler, give David Radford pointers on how to write a good term paper, chat with April Walsh about the novel she is writing, or eat breakfast at Shoney's with Gedeon McKinney with little to no effort. (Gedeon was just there!) It's accessible.

But there's another thing you have to take into account, and that is the online interactivity. Go look at and you'll see what I mean. There's exclusive behind the scenes video, recaps, journals, profiles, and a HUMONGOUS fan area.

The fan area includes the option to create personal blogs (there are MANY MANY there), a message board with thousands online at a time (there were 400,000 on today and this is 2 days after the finale...there were more during the season), Fantasy Idol leagues, and just a ton of other stuff to do.

Attention: Mack: If you want the very definition of "joining the community," you need look no further, since Idol not only joins the community, they CREATE one. Blogs factor in SIGNIFICANTLY there, and I'm not just saying that because they published one of my recaps.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Although I agree with you completely, I presume you can see right through me: I think point of my post was to justify the fact that I watched at least 75% of the Idol episodes this season. And like every year, I cared who came out on top.

I was hooked. And Daughtry was robbed.

I had no idea there was so much online activity around Idol. I heard about the blogs in the commercials, but 400, 000 two days after the finale is pretty amazing. Canadian Idol would be ecstatic with that many votes in their finale. (I don't know that to be true. That's hyperbole)


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