The Power of SMS

AT&T Says American Idol Season 7 Broke Text Message Record
by: Jerry Liao

There are times when I get the chance to watch the eviction nights of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) and I can’t help but be amazed with the number of votes (via text messaging) each housemates are getting. I am even surprised when I see the total number of SMS votes during their Big Night where the winners are announced, the total SMS reaches millions.

SMS voting has become so popular in contests, not only here in the Philippines but worldwide. Not only because it’s very convinient for both the program stations and its viewers, there is money behind it – BIG MONEY.

But I guess PBB should stand aside for the meantime as AT&T Inc. announced that the company has shattered its text messaging record of 64.5 million by generating more than 78 million messages this season of “American Idol” — the most popular show on television.

Since AT&T introduced text message voting in season 2 of FOX’s “American Idol,” text messaging has continued to play a significant role in the Idol interactive experience. In fact, during last week’s hometown visits, a new text messaging component was used to inform the final three contestants of the Producer’s Choice selection via their Apple iPhones, an AT&T-exclusive handset.

“There’s no question that Idol fans are texting in huge numbers,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T’s wireless operations. “We rolled out a lot of great Idol-themed content this season that kept fans engaged and connected. From ‘American Idol’ trivia, special sweepstakes, TXT chats, vote number reminders and, of course, voting, there were plenty of opportunities for AT&T customers to enhance their favorite Idol moments.”

AT&T’s sponsorship of “American Idol” helped put text messaging on the map. Back in 2003, when the text message voting component was first introduced to the show, text messaging was still a relatively new technology and almost exclusively limited to the youth market. Today, text messaging has become almost as popular as voice communication as a way to stay connected while on the go.

This season, AT&T conducted an informal poll on its Web site to get a sense from customers about the role text messaging has played. Poll results are based on the 416 responses submitted March 7 to May 5, 2008.

– Fifty-one percent said they tend to text more frequently during the “American Idol” season than other times of the year.

– Forty-three percent said they discuss “American Idol” with others via text messaging while watching the show.

– Twenty-two percent said they first learned to text message by voting for their favorite Idol contestant.

– By texting their votes this season, AT&T’s wireless customers helped crown a new “American Idol” champion, David Cook, and made it possible for AT&T to capture a new text messaging milestone for television’s No. 1 show.

Of course the votes for American Idol is worldwide while PBBs is only local. But can you imagine the power of technology nowadays? Text messaging brought David Cook (the winner) to stardom, not to mention his talents of course.

The headline should read – David Cook Wins – Cook-ed by Text Messages.

God Bless us all!

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