Last year, performances and "singles" from the #1 show on television didn't come to iTunes until AFTER the season had ended. I don't know if it was because Apple and Fox couldn't work out an agreement early enough (iTunes did feature the Idol Gives Back charity singles/videos), or what, but I have a feeling a lot of potential money was lost by not having performances available on iTunes earlier. This year, iTunes is in on the action from the very beginning.
Starting this week, the audio performances from the Top 24 contestants will be available on iTunes for $.99 a piece. Starting March 11, the full video performances from the the Top 12 finalists will be available for $1.99 a piece. Fans can even "pre-order" performances from their favorite contestants from within iTunes, and those songs or videos will be automatically downloaded the day after the show airs.
iTunes is also providing, in their words, "exclusive direct links from the free streaming performance videos on americanidol.com".
If they follow last year's trend, the contestant's will record their chosen song each week in a studio BEFORE performing live on the show, and that audio file will be available the next day. The video footage will be from the live performance and from slightly different angles than what is used for the television broadcast.
The Top 24 starts tonight, meaning the first batch of downloads will be available tomorrow.