This new article in Advertising Age magazine sheds some interesting light on where the Idol business is heading these days.
Take a look at the numbers:
Conservatively valued at $2.5 billion as a franchise, the American Idol empire already brings in $500 million a year in TV ad dollars, including a number of $30 million to $50 million core sponsorship packages, music sales, live tours — read: more sponsorship revenue as well as ticket sales — and an explosion of products from 40 licensees.
Expansion is the key word. According to Ad Age, chocolate bars, ice cream, a monopoly game, a theme park attraction and a “sims”-style virtual Idol world are some of the related merchandising deals Freemantle Media has either done or is in the process of negotiating.
And there is more. There are plans to stream the ENTIRE program at americanidol.com after it airs. McDonalds and Mastercard have signed on as sponsors. Cingular will make clips from the show available for download on cellphones after the program airs in Hawaii.
Keith Hindle, Fremantle Media Licensing Worldwide exec VP-integrated marketing and interactive-Americas, said the goal is to make “American Idol, ” which hits the Fox airwaves Jan. 16, a year-round phenomenon.
What? It isn’t already a year round phenomenon? Heh.
According to Hindle, the goal is to capitalize on the viewer’s desire for interactivity. So, not only will viewers be able to vote for their favorites during the season, they’ll have an opportunity to appear in a music video with the contestants via a Ford contest and submit questions for the contestants through mycokerewards.com.
This is interesting:
Fremantle owns AmericanIdol.com, which is built, hosted and sold by Fox through a revenue-sharing agreement. Fremantle, approached by a major web portal last year about hosting the Idol website, came close to yanking the property from Fox entirely, said one executive close to the company, noting that the company felt that Fox hadn’t sufficiently capitalized on a web presence until season five.
The Fox-hosted site attracted 40 million unique visitors last season.
Fox and Freemantle have been slow to make video and audio downloads available for fans to purchase.
While Fremantle appears to be cleaning up — pretax revenue in the first half of ’06 was up 75%, according to parent German media consortium RTL — it’s being careful to keep control of its golden goose. When executives last checked, YouTube was carrying some 32, 000 “Idol” clips — all illegal.
And at this point, their biggest competition are the enterprising fans…
A question: If Idol saturates the market with products, could it be overkill? At what point does fatigue set in and folks start tuning out?