Predicto sees future in celeb polls

Online service sends text-message surveys

Fifty-two percent think Tea Leoni will start dating Billy Bob Thornton; 80% feel Barack Obama will be president; 57% say Jennifer Lopez won’t become a Scientologist.

Those are just some of the nuggets gleaned from Predicto.com, a far-from-scientific polling service wrapped within a social network and point-earning system that entices users mostly with gossipy hot topics, often centered around celebs.

After filling in a profile, users reply thoughout the day to text-message surveys the company sends to their cell phones.

Creator Eyal Yechezkell says the site, launched in August 2007, now boasts more than 600,000 premium users who pay $10 a month to answer polls (there is also a free, basic level).

“Though politics are now at the forefront, celebrities are always popular,” Yechezkell says. “Will they stay in rehab or not? Will they ever have a No. 1 single? That kind of thing.”

Young people make up the majority of texters, which, Yechezkell admits, skews the data.

The more polls users get “right,” the more points they earn; Those points are then cashed in for prizes. 800 points earns you a Magic Eight Ball — which may have a higher degree of national accuracy than Predicto.

But true polling accuracy doesn’t seem to be a worry for TMZ and Celebrity Mound, both of which have cited Predicto’s data in stories.