Australian Idol‘s website bungle, in which it displayed the wrong elimination numbers for its contestants, has surely left a sour taste for fans of the show during its crucial last week.
The official line, according to TEN and FremantleMedia, is that they are confident it didn’t affect the final outcome. This is based on the number of hits the site received during its erroneous 25 minutes.
The problem is, viewers aren’t so confident. And that’s where it matters.
We are never told how many votes any eliminated reality contestant ever gets (Big Brother at least used to show us percentages). Therefore the trust between viewer and producers really only stretches so far.
There is also no real way of knowing if one hit would have translated to one vote. Who’s to say somebody didn’t log onto the site, and send 100 votes in somebody’s direction? Producers know the likelihood of this is negligible, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.
Which is why the show should have turned a negative into a positive.
Sunday’s finale should have included all three singers, Wes, Luke and Mark, in a three way “first ever” battle.
God knows the show is long enough to do it (it usually runs overtime as it is).
Dancing with the Stars had a three way tussle for its 2008 title just over a week ago. The elimination of the first contestant provided it with a cliffhanger halfway through the show. Idol should have done the same thing.
As it is there were three “winner’s songs” in readiness anyway.
In the decision-making window that was Monday, producers clearly missed that opportunity and instead the show has angered fans of Mark Spano, who was eliminated. Wouldn’t it have been much better to bring those fans to the Sunday finale in a dramatic three-way battle?
No doubt not eliminating a singer could have meant potentially reimbursing viewers for calls already logged. But with Dancing’s “carry-over” of votes after it failed to eliminate a contestant a precedent had been set (albeit, not a perfect one).
The issue here is essentially this: all reality-voting shows need to provide facts, not excuses. If viewers are asked to spend money, it is reasonable to expect some hard and fast figures showing where the votes went.
That way there can be no unanswered questions when such errors occur, viewers can have their faith restored and reality shows can remain transparent.
Please lift your game for 2009.