Actually, TiVo can't predict "American Idol" losers

Yesterday I reported that according to TiVo, Syesha Mercado was going to lose. Wrong!

By Farhad Manjoo

Published April 11, 2008 5:45PM (EDT)

Oh TiVo, you tricky fool. Yesterday I reported that, according to the entertainment blog TMZ, executives at TiVo had cooked up a way to predict which "American Idol" contestants would get kicked off every week.

The secret was in fast-forwarding: TiVo, TMZ said, tracks usage statistics in a pool of its viewers, and can determine which "Idol" performances viewers skipped through and which they replayed. The singers whose songs were most-fast-forwarded were likely to go home.

TMZ said that TiVo had predicted the loser for four weeks straight -- and this week Syesha Mercado would go home.

As "Idol" fans know, though, that didn't happen. Michael Johns lost last night's contest, and Mercado gets to hang around for at least another week.

What happened? Mercado was among last night's bottom-three contestants, so TiVo's method wasn't completely useless. Which, of course, is more than you can say for a lot of contestants on "American Idol."

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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