Search and Vote: ‘American Idol’ Will Let Fans Cast Ballots via Google, In First for TV

Also for Fox show's 13th season, Facebook will provide demographic trends of voters for telecasts

American Idol,” which is seeing some ratings drop-off in its 13th season, is hoping to locate more viewers through Google searches.

The singing show on Fox, produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, has teamed with Google in a unique partnership: Starting next month, “Idol”-related Google searches will turn up a voting screen during live broadcasts. In another new feature this season, Facebook is set to work with the show to display demographic trends of voters and pull up results in real time.

With the addition of Google, the show now offers viewers five ways to vote: online at AmericanIdol.com; via the “Idol” app; text messaging; toll-free calling; and Google Search. All five methods of voting are managed and certified by vote-management firm Telescope.

The Google-voting feature will be enabled with the first finalist performance show on Wednesday, Feb. 26, and for and every subsequent live performance. Viewers will be able to vote via Google when the vote window opens at the top of the show, by searching for terms related to the show (such as contestant name). For relevant searches, the results page will include a voting screen; after voting, users will be able to share their votes on Google+, follow contestants, join community conversations or participate in Google Hangouts about the show.

For the TV broadcast, “Idol” is working with Facebook to provide a real-time view of demographics among East Coast voters. In addition, “American Idol” fans — of which there are more than 11 million on Facebook — may be featured in the show’s telecast, and see their actual Facebook profile picture on TV if they post comments about contestants.

For now Twitter, which has hyped itself as a particularly TV-friendly social platform, is out of the “Idol” rotation as far as letting viewers cast votes. The show has not used Twitter for contestant voting before (although another Fox singing-competition show, “X Factor,” did last season).

But while Twitter is not an official voting platform for the show, “American Idol” has in the past asked viewers to respond with a specific hashtag to voice their opinions. “Twitter is very much a part of our marketing of the show and on-air callouts,” a Fox rep said. In addition, “American Idol” producers staged a promo last fall letting fans vote via Twitter and Facebook to pick the official tagline for the 13th season. The winning tagline: “Search for a superstar,” along with the Twitter hashtag #thisisreal.

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