Talk about a power duo: Apple's iTunes just became a signature sponsor and the official online content supplier for Fox's "American Idol."
This means if you want to hear or watch a video of a music performance, you can find it all on iTunes for 99 cents or $1.99 starting March 11.
Apple is joining Coke, Ford, and AT&T , and is the first on-air integration partner to be added since Idol's second season (it's now in its seventh).
Here's how it works: Apple buys commercial air time -- which is pricey -- and the hosts mention iTunes and Apple, and the music player as well as the iPhone, and iPod Touch are mentioned throughout the season.
This is product integration at its best. You'll see the singers using their Apple products to rehearse and you'll see how easy it is to access Idol tunes on iTunes. In fact, one almost has to wonder why it hasn't happened before.
How much is it costing Apple? Well, Coke, Ford and AT&T pay about $35 million each for their partnerships. ITunes does bring a certain cache to the table, but no one will comment if Fox is paying any more or less. And of course, Idol and its partners share in the revenue from iTunes sales. So the better the marketing partnershp, the more it pays off to both Apple and Idol.
Pretty smart on Apple's part, and a pretty clever way for Fox parent News Corp. to continue to expand the reach and cache of its aging, but still vibrant reality-show juggernaut.
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