It only took 10 seasons, but American Idol may finally have discovered the internet. First came word that the hit show was considering finally introducing online voting next year, and now there’s talk of reversing last year’s retreat from contestants using Twitter and other social media.
Each contestant that makes the top 12 could have a Twitter feed of their own this coming season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That would represent an aboutface from last year’s switcheroo, where contestants abruptly saw their Twitter feeds shut down and then consolidated into one overall Idol feed.
It’s not hard to see why the show would make such a move; the more feeds out there, the higher the likelihood that there be some kind of publicity nightmare triggered by an ill-advised tweet. Plus what better way to reduce the suspense of who would win than to see who has the most Twitter followers, as The Wall Street Journal theorized when Idol made its move in March to consolidate accounts across not just Twitter, but Facebook and MySpace.
Nevertheless, what better way than social media to build up the bond between fans and contestant, especially given the two-way nature of Twitter and its ilk. As THR reports, the Twitter reversal is part of an overall move by the show to create more “transparency” in the Idol machine, including putting the Top 12 together in a house that could provide behind-the-scenes footage opportunities.
Which only begs another option: Why not let video feeds of the inner workings of everything from living quarters to the rehearsal process get exhibited online the way CBS’ Big Brother has done for years? With a new panel of judges coming in to rejuvenate Idol, the Fox series really needs to rethink how to boost this brand by any means necessary.