Apple signs as American Idol sponsor but won’t rank singers, show iTunes sales

American Idol added Apple as a signature sponsors, all of which are iconic American companies: AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Ford. While the sponsorship fee wasn’t revealed, the other three sponsors paid $35 million each.

For its cash, “Apple’s iPod becomes the official digital music player for ‘Idol,’ while the iPhone becomes the show’s official handset,” Variety says. More significantly, Apple gets “exclusive audio and video performance download rights,” meaning that songs and videos from the show will be for sale on iTunes, Variety reports. “An ‘Idol’ special section has been created on the iTunes Store. Starting this week, music performances from the top 24 ‘Idol’ semifinalists will be sold for 99 cents person. Then, starting March 11, video of top 12 finalist performances will be sold for $1.99.”

However, unlike other songs and videos for sale on iTunes, they will not be ranked in any way to prevent us from knowing who is generating the most sales. The iTunes American Idol store says:

American Idol contestants are presented here in alphabetical order. iTunes and FOX are committed to presenting contestants in a fair and balanced manner online and on-air. For this reason, sales of performances from American Idol contestants from the current season will not be reflected in the iTunes charts.

Streaming videos will apparently still be available on the show’s web site, but now that the performances are for sale, we’ll see how aggressive the show is about unauthorized video and audio clips that many blogs offer.

Apple teams with ‘American Idol’ [Variety]