'Idol' added to iTunes playlist

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"American Idol" has partnered with Apple to allow fans to purchase all of the top 24 semifinalist performances exclusively on the iTunes store.

Apple's iTunes now becomes "Idol's" exclusive online download provider and the iPod becomes the official MP3 player/digital music device, while the iPhone becomes the series' official handset. Apple iTunes is the fourth official integration partner in "Idol," joining Coke, Ford and Cingular. It is the first time an on-air integration partner has been added since the second season of the nation's most-watched show.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the three other integration partners pay roughly $35 million each for commercial time, on-air integration and off-air marketing rights.

Kicking off this week with the top 24 semifinalists, customers can purchase "Idol" performances for 99 cents per song. Fans will be able to purchase the full video of the top 12 finalist performances for $1.99 each starting March 11. Fans can pre-order performances of their favorite contestants from the iTunes store which will be downloaded automatically the day after the show airs.

"We have some truly outstanding talent this year, and by working with Apple and iTunes, we're giving viewers another great way to enjoy America's brightest new stars from 'Idol,' " said Simon Fuller, creator of "Idol" and founder and CEO of 19 Entertainment. "I'm sure there will be many memorable performances that viewers will want to relive from this 2008 season."

It was not immediately clear how iTunes would be featured in the show, but in-show call-outs will drive viewers to iTunes every Tuesday for performance downloads. Key Apple brands, including the iPod, iPod Touch and iPhone, will be placed organically in "Idol" throughout the season, according to a Fox spokeswoman.

Eddy Cue, Apple's vp iTunes, said a special section has been created at the iTunes store for "Idol" fans "with an array of music and video performances from television's most popular show.

Additionally, iTunes is the exclusive sponsor of the series' live contestant performance streams and will have substantial branded presence on AmericanIdol.com, where iTunes will provide direct links from the free streaming performance videos.

Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Interactive Media, producers 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia and Apple partnered on the deal.
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