[Update: AllFacebook's Jackie Cohen made contact with Facebook, who has not confirmed this rumor as true. Facebook's ambiguous comments are shown below:
"We don't comment on speculation but are always talking to media companies about developments. X Factor is already doing some great stuff with Facebook and we are seeing loads of engagement on their Page."]
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Fox, Simon Cowell and producers of The X-Factor are in talks with Facebook to bring online voting to the upcoming U.S. version of the singing competition.
The plans are still in negotiations to included voting via Facebook, which would be reserved for the final rounds of the show, although the Fox show would still use the conventional phone voting system.
Details and security issues are being ironed out while the plan is for viewers to be able to vote for contestants via their own Facebook page or an X-Factor application. “The roll-out would be part of an innovative global partnership with Facebook that would include all versions of X-Factor around the world.”
The report comes across quite clear that Facebook voting would immediately distinguish X-Factor from its U.S. competitors and from American Idol, which Cowell left last year after nine seasons.
Even though X-Factor will benefit by collaborating with Facebook, so will the social networking platform. The publicity of the show arriving in September and the massive hype due to Cowell’s fame from Idol and his huge success with X-Factor in the UK is enough to boast Facebook numbers even higher than its 550 million users worldwide.
But all is not easy among rivals as feathers are ruffled inside News Corp because having a deal with Facebook instead of longtime rival MySpace, which, like Fox, is owned by News Corp. makes me wonder who is signing the checks.
Let’s take a look at American Idol since this announcement from X-Factor. This season, Idol allowed potential contestants to submit videos of them via MySpace. While the show’s producer Nigel Lythgoe told an Atlanta newspaper that Idol will soon add online voting; however, this afternoon, a new update from EW reports Facebook voting could be added to Idol as soon as next week. This just proves that social networking works fast win competition is fierce.
Interestingly, Cowell said to be a major force behind the move to online voting. The reality mogul, who will star in and executive produce the U.S. X-Factor, is said to covet an audience as similarly youthful as the show enjoys in the U.K., where it delivers to a far more younger viewers than any other unscripted show.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the U.K. X-Factor has already leveraged social media to boost audience engagement. Contestants often communicate directly with fans via Facebook and Twitter and viewers sometimes generate 500 tweets a second when the show is airing.
I must say it will be interesting to see how all this negotiating irons out through the spring and summer. Cowell definitely knows how to promote, be heard and start trends.