According to today’s Advertising Age, AT&T is embroiled in some potential controversy around American Idol and how many text votes it might have encouraged Kris Allen fans to send.
According to a New York Times story citing the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, employees for AT&T distributed phones to folks at two finale parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was crowned this year’s “Idol” winner. The phones allowed Mr. Allen’s supporters to text their votes for their native idol, while the AT&T employees reportedly also gave free text-messaging lessons, including how to send multiple texts with the press of a single button, a practice known as power texting. (According to the show’s website: “The producers reserve the right to remove any identified ‘power dialing’ votes. Note that this applies to both toll-free and text-messaging votes.”)
Now, they’re not telling how many of the almost 100 million votes cast were for each of them, so we don’t know by how much he won. But, what’s pretty interesting is the actual number of votes cast via text message this year.
AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. carrier, struck a sponsorship deal with “American Idol” in 2003 that allowed only users of its cellphones to cast votes via text message. Since then the volume of text votes related to the show, including sweepstakes and trivia, has jumped. This year the carrier processed 178 million “American Idol”-related text messages, vs. last year’s 78 million.
178 million text messages in 2009. That’s 35,600,000 per month (including May), or about 1.7 million text message per day just about American Idol. Now we know why the cell phone companies, don’t include text messaging in their “unlimited data” plans (something else that really bugs me because, after all, text messages are data).
Anyway, back to the point. Anyone business that can drive that much text traffic, not to mention all the search and web traffic, is definitely in the “unstoppable” category and is a wave to ride.