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Meanwhile, BMG's Clive Davis has turned the opportunity into record sales in a tough market with hit artists including even non-winners like Daughtry, Katharine McPhee and Clay Aiken.
IDOL NOW VALUED AT $2.5 BILLION
New Season of Fox Show Set to Premiere January 16-17 with More Corporate Sponsorships Than Ever
American Idol is an honest-to-goodness marketing phenomenon.

Now about to start its sixth season on January 16, the Fox juggernaut will spawn chocolate bars, ice cream and Monopoly games, not to mention theme-park attraction and a virtual “Sims”-style Idol world in a franchise now worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

According to Ad Age, the American Idol empire already brings in $500 million a year in TV ad dollars, including a number of $30 million to $50 million core sponsorship packages, music sales, live tours and new products from up to 40 licensees.

Meanwhile, BMG's Clive Davis has turned the opportunity into record sales in a tough market with hit artists including even non-winners like Daughtry Katharine McPhee and Clay Aiken.

Fremantle Media, the rights holder to "Idol," will now stream the entire program at AmericanIdol.com after it airs, with sponsors including McDonald's and MasterCard.

The goal is to make the show a year-round, interactive event. Last season, the show attracted 570 million voters and 65 million text messages, more than participate in the Presidential election.

Sponsors like Ford, Coca-Cola and Cingular Wireless pay upwards of $30 million to $50 million in sponsorship pays, and will launch individual contests to further involve viewers. Cingular is allowing fans to download specific performances, making clips from the show available on cellphones once viewers in Hawaii have finished watching the show.

AmericanIdol.com is built, hosted and sold by Fox through a revenue-sharing agreement with Fremantle. The site attracted 40 million unique visitors last season. Among the licensing partners on the site is Star Style, which allows viewers to buy the outfits worn by the finalists.

In addition to Coke's major commitment to promote the show on its product, Nestle will distribute 79 million branded candy bars while Dreyer's is introducing ice-cream flavors with names such as "Hollywood Cheesecake" and "Drumstick Diva."

A division of German media giant RTL, Fremantle’s pretax revenue profit was up 75% in the first half of ’06.  The finale, which attracted 22.7 million viewers in season one, grew to 36.3 million for the season-five finale. This year is expected to be even bigger.

Let the competition begin.

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