AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of “American Idol,” might have influenced theAmerican Idol outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.
From its perch as the exclusive provider of cellphone text voting for "American Idol," AT&T has reaped lots of revenue from millions of voting fans not to mention millions of dollars in publicity and on-air mentions. But now AT&T finds itself with some unwelcome PR amid charges that it may have swung the outcome of the top-rated talent show.
AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. carrier, struck a sponsorship deal with "American Idol" in 2003 that allowed only users of its cellphones to cast votes via text message. Since then the volume of text votes related to the show, including sweepstakes and trivia, has jumped. This year the carrier processed 178 million "American Idol"-related text messages, vs. last year's 78 million.