24
November
2018

Why Junior Eurovision Needs A Dedicated Children’s Ambassador

Why Junior Eurovision Needs A Dedicated Children’s Ambassador

“You have been many times before, maybe you should write an article about it,” said Jon Ola Sand, Head of Live Events for the European Broadcasting Union, at the EBU’s press conference to the ESC Insight team. (Check it out on this video)

So we did.

Why are we talking about this issue right now? Is it as simple as a show putting young people on television screens means that Junior Eurovision is always going to be under the microscope of scrutiny?

It is because the 2017 edition once more got social media comment boxes full with so called fans commenting on how inappropriate competing song lyrics and stage costumes are. From there the ethics of the show get questioned and if it’s right for children to take part in such adult games like what the Song Contest is.

Malta’s backing dancers drew criticism from press and fans alike in Tbilisi (Photo, Thomas Hanses, EBU)

But those people are not just the fans and the internet reaction brigade; they even include EBU member broadcasters putting down their very creation.

Commenting how these young people were ‘playing adults’ instead of being the children they are was actually Danish broadcaster DR, describing it as ‘fundamentally wrong’. The very broadcaster who started off this entire concept in the year 2000.

Both EBU and the Belarussian broadcaster have invited DR back into the Junior Eurovision family, but they have refused since 2006 as the show now doesn’t follow ‘Danish values’. Denmark isn’t any country on planet Earth; this is Denmark that repeatedly tops world tables for happiness and child protection.

Jon Ola Sand said in above press conference that if the EBU “see the need to strengthen the ethical side of this (contest) we will of course do so.”

Jon Ola Sand at the EBU/RTP Press Conference in Lisbon (Photo: Andres Putting, EBU)

With DR not just absent but actively criticising how Junior Eurovision portrays itself, I believe it is time the EBU actively strengthened their role in ensuring an ethical Junior Eurovision experience.

What Are These Danish Values?

It therefore seems paradoxical that Denmark still runs their precursor to Junior Eurovision, MGP, and even more that it’s a big deal for the broadcaster.

From the visual production there’s little to differ the two at first glance. MGP recycles the stage from the Danish National Final, meaning this is no small production and the YouTube views for the performances are well in the hundreds of thousands. This is also a big deal.

However watching clips side-by-side alongside those from Junior Eurovision makes those small differences seem like chasms.

Melissa and Viktoria performing ‘Jag Elsker Deg’ at MGP 2018 (Photo: DR)

There’s a overly-youthful innocence to the Danish children, and not just down to them being on average a handful of months younger than their European counterparts. They also dress down, looking more like kids going to a birthday disco. The song lyrics are simple – no heavy hitting here; with the best friends singing ‘I Love You’ on repeat the best example of a genre only found on children’s television.

Russia’s Junior Eurovision winner from last year isn’t just leagues more mature, it’s packing a combo of an emotional jab at the heart with a forceful vocal hook and a sombre message that plows deep into your stomach. It’s a story that many have said doesn’t have place in a children’s setting, but the authenticity of Polina’s delivery says otherwise. Children know what hurt is, after all.

The cosmetic approach to this question of Danish values is to judge this purely by the types of songs on show. That would be unfair for numerous reasons. Firstly we have seen that in Junior Eurovision usually it’s adults who award more points to the more child-like performances whereas child voters favour big impressive and more ‘adult’ acts instead. Secondly that ignores what else happens off the stage at MGP.

Jan Lagermand Lungme, the Head of Programming for DR and also a Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group member, surmises there “should be more focus on the kids” rather than making Junior Eurovision a mini-me of its bigger brother. Look for example at MGP’s website – heavy on vlogs, games and quizzes to tap into their target audience. In comparison junioreurovision.tv is the same serious frontage as the main eurovision.tv and full of content aimed at broadcasters rather than the 13-16 audience the EBU are targeting.

Jan Lagermand Lundme was also DR’s Head of Show for Copenhagen’s hosting in 2014 (Photo: Sander Hesterman, EBU)

There’s also the fact that the young artists in Denmark get so much more education through their national final process. Songs are written by the children themselves and songwriting sessions are run around the country, meaning hundreds of young people benefit. We can see the artists and their songs slowly transform over the weeks and months and the students gain skills that are not just used in a three minute performance window. That isn’t visible at Junior Eurovision and, no, I don’t want to return to the unpoliceable minefield of children wrote their own songs. However in comparison to the Danish experience Junior Eurovision lacks the chance to make the experience educational – viewers at home will only ever get three minutes on stage.

Finally, there’s a relaxed freedom to MGP that isn’t there at Junior Eurovision. The Danish green room is a candy paradise with kids bouncing off their sugar-highs at each other having a whale of a time. I’m not saying that the kids in Junior Eurovision are not having fun, but the toil of the voting sequence and the ‘smile at the camera’ preparation is perhaps too much like what happens on a Saturday night in May. I love my statistics like everybody else, but perhaps Junior Eurovision should stop being a testing ground for gimmicky voting ideas and should not have such tense voting sequences played out to the cameras. We can focus on celebrating the successes not the failures at the after show party.

Those Danish values don’t mean we have to dress up our performing children in braids with songs only about love, love, peace and peace. They mean we make Junior Eurovision a style in its own type and celebrating what they want to do. Ratings are not the biggest driving force. Neither is making hit records. Making an educational and safe experience is.

Submissions to MGP 2019 opened on July 1st and closed on September 1st

When Your Green Room Isn’t A Safe Space

I have been proud to attend many Junior Eurovision contests as accredited press and have investigated previously the roles of young people in the Song Contest. I’ve seen them have the time of their lives.

I’ve also seen some of the lows.

I’ve written about one performer and her visible tears in the green room on a previous ESC Insight newsletter, and don’t want to echo the full story here. All we need to know is one child was left in an unsafe space, stuck, without an adult who could spot this or be turned to for help. That is completely unacceptable.

The EBU have made it a requirement that a parent/guardian is now a part of the delegation team, and as Jon Ola Sand says, “who better to take care of the kids than the parents.”

He’s not wrong. The problem here is that the parents can not and should not be everywhere in the production.

Parents will never pop up in the green room with a tissue to cry into. Parents comfort on stage if the lights go out. Parents won’t be there to check the child understands what to say or do in a press conference which for some is a significant challenge.

There’s also the issue of what actually happens during Junior Eurovision week itself. Now I’ve been on many of the tours and excursions and they are generally excellent, the countries that host really enjoy showing the visiting young people great parts of their culture. However there are still parts of the programme that would never be acceptable to the eyes of child-centric broadcasters.

Take for example the after-party or the opening parties – the most fun occasions of them all. To keep spirits high at these events I have often witnessed adults welcome to partake in a glass of wine or two or four, until all of them have enough liquid confidence to take over the dance floor from the teenagers. Children in this setting should never be exposed to the combination of free-pouring alcohol and adults. Those adults can go and party afterwards or elsewhere or frankly while still being sober and responsible if they still insist.

As another example take the scheduling that took place in Sofia 2015, with a jury final late on the Friday night. With clothing to change out of, a fake voting to sit through and delays waiting for buses acts arrived at the official hotel in the early hours of Saturday morning. They were also hungry, and many trotted over the road to the only location open…McDonalds. The duty of care levels have to be higher.

Big Macs were the only thing available to fill up the little stomachs in Sofia

While feeding and looking after the delegations should absolutely be a broadcaster responsibility the EBU need to have insist on greater guarantees on what and when the pieces come together. The backstage arena should have healthy, nutrious food available whenever for example, and I would argue that no events, rehearsals or activities should take place after a set time in keeping with the body clocks of children. The children go first.

Who Is There To Help?

It’s not only the Danish broadcaster that has been discussing these issues in recent months. Gert Kark, EBU’s Project Manager for Junior Eurovision expanded at the press conference that the welfare of young people was an agenda point at a recent meeting of the EBU Steering Group in Minsk. The conclusions from that were that the Belarussian broadcaster was going to put in special measures and that as always there are support staff and volunteers.

To their credit, Jon Ola Sand followed up in their Press Conference in Minsk saying there is a reduced schedule for the acts for this year. That helps to give the acts enough downtime to chill, relax and prepare for the show.

I also have much time to say thank you to the many thousands and thousands of volunteers that have helped the Eurovision Song Contest bubble year upon year. However we are looking here for a qualified expert, not just some enthusiastic young people or television executives.

In terms of the duty of care required Junior Eurovision is comparable to a school field trip and the organisation surrounding that. Now to go on a school field trip requires the school to plan accordingly and be aware of any risks that are involved. The school would be in this sense take up the role of the delegation. The camp would be filling in the role of the host broadcaster and the EBU.

So for a school to prepare for a trip they have to fill in a standard form where possible risks are identified and steps presented to reduce any risks. Pre-trip visits are essential to get approval for any trip outside of the school. Even small details such as working out where the toilets are and how to cross the road need to be thought out and included. Yes this might seem like overkill, but it is the reality of 21st century child care. I should know, it’s my day job.

The side of the organising team also has these requirements to upkeep. For example I have been looking through Kingswood Adventure Centre from the United Kingdom for an equivalent understanding, advertising all of their risk assessments for activities on their website. Even the very low risk activities such as craft making are full documented to assist schools in ensuring all safety checks in working with young people have been up kept. Furthermore they ensure centrally a 24 hour first aid worker and a Duty Manager to help any of their schools or youth groups in need. If Junior Eurovision has even one of these things I have never seen evidence of that in my experience of four years of attending as press.

Kingswood’s risk assessment template for a simple session of percussion

And this is part of the problem. Junior Eurovision as an event should be seeing itself at the pinnacle of children’s entertainment programming. That means the best stage production and the most fun, but also the highest standards of care. And if those standards of care are so high, Junior Eurovision needs to be shouting about them to ensure that every broadcaster and media representative knows what a good work they are doing. Only then is there any chance of putting a halt to the comments that kids shouldn’t be taking part.

That is one side of what the EBU need to ensure happens, the other of course happens during the frantic week itself. Being an ambassador to those young people means being there for them. Being at their events, driving their karaoke night, mini-disco, homework catch-up and whatever gaming competition they love. Somebody who loves being the heartbeat of the ‘Come Together’ community. Within the EBU team there isn’t a role for anybody to actually get to interact with these children, and most of the time I’ve witnessed adults and artists stand well apart from each other and exchange only the most polite of handshakes.

You may argue that the loving community of Junior Eurovision runs by itself, but so much would be a trifle naive. I have witnessed enough in my time to know that it is absolutely fabulous, but just sometimes things happen that are not. Having parents to turn to is one thing, but there needs to be a contact centrally to deal with such matters and who can be there to support the welfare and the coming together of everybody. Somebody who knows the troubles a teenage life can bring, and can step in and make sure such issues are able to be addressed. Prevention is far better than any cure.

Only This Role Can Make Junior Eurovision Grow

They might be ‘Danish values’ stopping Denmark from entering, but they are far away from the only country not entering based on how Junior Eurovision operates. Sure we may look at the record number of entrants and countries like France and Wales entering this year as a sign that things are improving, but in reality both of those moves are far more likely to be to do with getting more exposure to one of the EBU’s big events than anything operational.

We need a focal point of stability to improve the trust of everybody in the set up. Somebody with years and years of experience in working with children, especially those with less native English experience and with those who have spent lots of time on stage. Somebody who is able to work alongside host broadcasters in planning their events so that the welfare of children is put first, and for ensuring each broadcaster can get all the risk assessments and documentation they need. Somebody who will dedicate their Junior Eurovision week to those contestants as their ambassador – to be the person leading the support for each and every act while also being there in times of need.

And yes, to make being there so much more…as the Danes put it…focus on the kids.

So Jon Ola Sand, that is your answer. Junior Eurovision needs to move in that direction. We are not just looking for smily faces on the camera for one hundred and fifty minutes of programming, we are looking at the highest levels of care for the children involved from start to end.

Junior Eurovision should be that best example.

The job description is outlined above, the question now is…will you make it happen?

Categories: ESC Insight

24
November
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Saturday 24th November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Saturday 24th November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181124_daily_595/escinsight_20181124_daily_595.mp3

The ‘free time on stage’ rehearsals are over. While there are the full show run throughts, the camera angles, props, and choreography are pretty much locked in. What’s been tweaked, what’s been tightened. and what’s been left alone since our performers last took to the stage? Let’s find out.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Saturday 24th November

Second rehearsals are over, and all that’s left is a few run throughs before the big show. What final changes have been made? Ewan Spence takes note with Nathan Waddell and Chris Hannaford in Minsk at Junior Eurovision 2018.

Now we are reporting from backstage at Junior Eurovision, remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2018

Wales’ Long Road To The Junior Eurovision Song

Wales’ Long Road To The Junior Eurovision Song

After five decades of attempting to get a place on stage, the small principality of Wales will be making its Eurovision debut at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2018. For one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom – which competes in the senior Contest and had previously competed in Junior Eurovision between 2003 and 2005 – why is Wales’ debut seen as historic to critics and fans alike?

The Welsh History Of Eurovision

You’d have to go back to 1969, when BBC Cymru Wales made an aborted attempt to split the United Kingdom’s participation in an attempt to allow Wales to compete. Another attempt came in 1977 when a young Pete Waterman produced a single he had hoped would get attention to be the first Welsh Eurovision entry, again this venture never made it to the Song Contest that was held in Wembley that year.

The Welsh language broadcaster S4C had expressed interest in a Eurovision debut as early as 2008, however with the BBC keeping a firm grip on the senior Contest the only way the Principality would get a chance to sing in a ‘traditional’ Eurovision Contest would be on the Junior stage (as well as participating in Eurovision Choir of the Year 2017). The United Kingdom, via ITV, last participated in the Junior Eurovision in 2005, before withdrawing due to low viewing figures. In the senior Contest, no more than seven Welsh singers have represented the UK at the Contest, including a victory from Nicky Stevens as part of Brotherhood of Man in 1976.

Here Comes Junior Eurovision

So what makes Wales’ debut entry stand out in Belarus? One of the main keystones is that this will be the first time that Welsh language (strictly speaking part of the brythonic grouping of celtic languages) will be performed at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

The Welsh language is still a huge influence in the identity of Welsh Music. Many of Wales’ major stars like Cara Braia, Super Furry Animals and Cerys Matthews are some of the names in Wales who are identified as making Welsh language music. Additionally, like Melodifestivalen and Sanremo, Wales has its own music competition ‘Can I Gymru‘ (‘A Song for Wales‘) which coincidentally was created as the National Final for Wales’ Eurovision attempt in 1969. Several winners of the competition have included Elin Fflur, Gai Thomas, and Cadi Gwyn Edwards.

Another factor has to be the advertisement and promotion that S4C have covered extensively to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. All public transport in Wales have advertised billboard for the National final ‘Chiwilio am Seren‘ (‘Search for a Star‘).

It’s worth mentioning that when the BBC revived a National Selection show in 2014 in partnership with BBC Music, there was no promotion to encourage artists to submit entries and there was little promotion to remind viewers when the announcement would take place on either BBC Television or Radio. Instead we found out through the Press Association.

When ‘Eurovision: You Decide‘ was launched in 2016 there was little to no advertisement or promotion of the National Final in general, except in the few days before airing. In fact the last time a National Final in the UK was promoted heavily was in 2009, although as a Saturday night talent show featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber this is perhaps less surprising.

In addition to the advertising of the National Final, the Welsh language media have championed the entry ‘Berta‘ not only on BBC Radio Cymru, but also on Capital Cymru, the first time in years that a Eurovision related song has been given significant airplay on a UK based commercial radio station.

S4C have also given screen timing to ‘Berta‘ twice a day on the channel. Usually broadcast after the children’s block ‘Cyw’ and then before ‘Stwnsh‘, an approach the BBC has not done in years for its UK entries. Additionally, Manw has been given exposure on various different Welsh language programmes, including the magazine programme ‘Heno’.As the competition grows closer, promotional trailers for the event have received promotion on both ITV Wales and BBC Wales, why might this be? Well S4C commissions programmes produced by both BBC and ITV Wales and reserves the right to trail their upcoming programmes on both networks in Wales. On big occasions such as sport and music events, S4C will at least promote their upcoming event on an English language channel.

Manw

Manw

How Valuable Is The Welsh Entry For Wales?

Although S4C only takes in around 00.6% of the UK audience share – it does stand at around 18% in Wales. ‘Eurovision: You Decide‘ pulls in around one million viewers and the Eurovision pulls in around eight million viewers on BBC One. However, many of those viewers are watching for different reasons. ‘You Decide’ for instance relies in part on the popularity of the presenter Mel Giedroyc. Mel is no stranger to viewers in the UK, having earned the respect of audience alike from programmes such as ‘Light Lunch’ and ‘The Great British Bake-Off’.

With ‘Chiwilio am Seren’, the three judges were no stranger to Welsh television viewers or indeed UK viewers. Stiffyan Parri for instance is one of the more successful names in Welsh language television. Having presented a wide variety of programmes for both BBC Wales and S4C, including the Welsh language edition of ‘Mr and Mrs‘. Both Connie Fisher and Tara Bethan are no strangers to fans of the stage, having both been discovered from Lloyd Webber television programmes. Connie Fisher herself has established herself as a TV Presenter who has hosted ‘The Cardiff Singer of the World Contest’ and has established her own performing arts academy. Whilst Tara Bethan has maintained success in acting, appearing for four years on the Welsh language Soap Opera ‘Pobol Y Cwm’.

Presenter Trystan Ellis-Morris is also well known with Welsh language viewers for presenting the children’s block ‘Cyw’ and having also presenting the Welsh language version of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’.

The four names who were involved in the National Final are all big names in Wales, which probably has helped in getting the promotion it deserves. But what about the Junior Eurovision Final? Eurovision night in May tends to pick up eight million viewers and S4C is estimate to pick up less than that, since only around 18% of the Welsh population watch the station. However, it’s worth mentioning why do these eight million tune into the Eurovision Song Contest… are they all fans of Eurovision?

Some are yes, but many are tuning in mainly for Graham Norton, who delivers his usual tongue in cheek commentary at the Eurovision Song Contest. Why do they tune in for Norton? Because Norton is the most successful television presenter not just in the UK but in Europe as well. If S4C are to get a high viewing figure for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, they will not only need to bring those viewers who watched ‘Chiwilio am Seren‘ – but also bring in the more casual viewer.

Final Thoughts

On Sunday afternoon, the fifty-year wait has finally come to an end. S4C is throwing its their weight behind the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, because it is Wales’ first attempt at making history at ‘Eurovision’.

Will it be successful? Who knows but with the promotion and advertising campaign heavily back by S4C I feel the Junior Eurovision will achieve good viewing figure in the Principality. And what does this mean for the Welsh language, could we maybe be seeing Welsh language entries making it to the Eurovision Song Contest stage in the future?

That might be a few years away, but I do hope that with a good result and good viewing figures on November 25th then come May we might have S4C broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest with a Welsh commentary team from Israel.

Watch Manw's road to Eurovision on S4C

Watch Manw’s road to Eurovision on S4C

Don’t forget to tune into S4C tonight at 7:30 for ‘Chwilio am Seren Junior Eurovision’, as the whole of the nation prepares for Manw and Wales’ debut to the Junior Eurovision stage. Available on Sky Channel 134 and in Wales 104, or you can watch it here.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Friday 23rd November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Friday 23rd November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20181123_daily_594/escinsight_20181123_daily_594.mp3

Second rehearsals are under way, the press room is filling up, and performances are being polished.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Minsk, Friday 23rd November

Looking back at the first batch of second rehearsals. Tighten the camera, move the props a bit faster, and add a pinch of Fighting Talk. Samuel Deakin and Nathan Waddell join Ewan Spence on ESC Insight’s daily news podcast from Junior Eurovision 2018.

Now we are reporting from backstage at Junior Eurovision, remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

22
November
2018

Eurovision attitude is changing in the Czech Republic

Eurovision attitude is changing in the Czech Republic

Mikolas Josef

After the country this year achieved its best Eurovision result ever, the national broadcaster is now preparing for the 2019 selection. The Czech fans are feeling the attitude towards the contest changing for the better. 

In autumn 2017, Czech national broadcaster Česká televize started a new online national final called ESCZ. From the “televoting” made from the votes sent by Czech people through the official Eurovision App and the international jury voting, Mikolas Josef was chosen as a clear winner. Then his fame became bigger and bigger until the whole Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, where he ended on a 5th place in the final. That is the best Czech result up to date.

We cannot be surprised that the broadcaster now sticks to this formula and keep the same format only with minor changes. The rules stayed the same as last year – aside from the usual Eurovision rules with a maximum of six on stage, length up to three minutes and not being publicly released before 1st September, Česká televize also wants the composers to submit a song with a Czech singer or lead vocalist. The submission period was open from the 31st August until 31st October and approximately 300 songs were received. That is the same number as last year, but the positive fact about this is that it included about 60 songs written by Czech composers. That is a double compared to 30 domestic-based entries for 2018. This shows that Czech producers and composers or the artists themselves are beginning to accept Eurovision Song Contest as a mean to promote their work and themselves instead of some kind of freak-show or a circus as Czech media usually entitle the Eurovision Song Contest. For the fans, this is a big improvement which will help them in their future work with spreading the joy.

2019 national selection

The broadcaster is now internally listening to all the entries, and the outcome will be a set of 6 or 8 songs that will take part in the online national final. In 2018, there were six participants, but now the broadcaster asked on its official Facebook profile if people think there will be 6 or 8 finalists this year, hinting that 8 is a possibility. Czech fans probably want to see and hear as much of the songs from the selection as possible, because the poll ended with 76 % for 8 songs and 24 % for 6 songs. Out of the 174 voters, this is approximately 132 people for the higher number of the participants. But we still have time until early January 2019 until we know the lucky finalists. Then the songs will be available in the Eurovision app for people to vote. And here comes the other change from the 2018 edition. In 2019, also foreign fans will be involved. They may vote in the app as well as the Czech voters. Their votes will be counted to one set of votes which will be another international juror along some previous Eurovision participants.

Czech Republic at Eurovision Song Contest

We still have some time to discover who will follow the steps of Mikolas Josef. The Czech Republic debuted in 2007 and waited 10 years and 7 participation until reaching the prestigious TOP 10 in the grand final. 6th place is the spot where the Czech Republic landed after nerve-wracking results in Lisbon.

In the video below, remind yourself of Mikolas’ Lie To Me. This is a a performance from Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

22
November
2018

Paths To Victory: How To Win Junior Eurovision Before You Start Singing

Paths To Victory: How To Win Junior Eurovision Before You Start Singing

As rehearsals continue in Minsk, the delegations entering this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest be considering the tactics needed to get the votes and the points that will win the Contest. Yes, Junior Eurovision is a melting pot of friendship and sharing, but we do keep score.

Following on from our look at the strategies to win the Adult Contest, what unique challenges feature in Junior Eurovision?

Once more, let’s remember the first principles. You win the Junior Eurovision Song Contest by scoring more points than any other song in that year’s Contest. It does’t matter if these are all points from the jury, all from the televote, or (more likely) from a mix of the two. Points are points.

How Many Points Do You Need?

Our analysis of the Adult contest suggests that ‘half the maximum number of points plus one’ is the finishing line in May. Junior Eurovision has a smaller competitive field, and like any Contest, each year is unique. But a look back at previous Junior years shows that scoring half of your maximum available points will put you in the mix for winning… because of the smaller field at Junior it’s common for second (and sometimes third) placed songs to pass the halfway mark as well.

Junior Eurovision winning points table (Ewan Spence)

Junior Eurovision winning points table (Ewan Spence)

This year there are twenty countries entering the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. That means nineteen juries are handing out votes (as you cannot vote for yourself). The maximum jury score is 228 points. The televote winning threshold is harder to calculate, as there is just one voting constituency (the world) and the Eurovision points are allocated on a percentage of votes cast. It’s also been used once before, in 2017, so there’s not a huge amount of data to work on – The Netherlands won the 2017 televote with 112 points out of a worldwide total of 929 points, but if we look at the more traditional jury vote there was a maximum of 180 points on offer, offering a midway point of 90 points. Translate that to the televote and The Netherlands scores 112 (over the 90 point mark) while Italy in second place scored 81 points.

In a blatant piece of theorising, I’m going to take the finishing line to be the fifty percent of available points in the jury vote, and a similar amount as the televote threshold, as the winning line of Junior Eurovision 2018, plus one.

We’re looking for 229 points to grab the victory.

The Two Sides Of Junior Eurovision

The jury side and the televote side of Junior Eurovision are completely split. There is nothing the jury can do to influence the televise, or vice versa. You can easily sweep the board with the jury, have a tiny showing in the televote, but still come home with the trophy. Songs can be tailored towards the jury, and in previous years there has been a clear bias by Junior jurors to reward technical singing and performance skill.

But what are the public looking for? This is where Junior Eurovision does something different to its older sibling. As previously explained here on ESC Insight the televote is not bound by country, it is a single region and the Eurovision points will be shared out according to the percentage of the votes cast. Of critical importance is that you can vote for your own country. Polish fans of Roksana Węgiel – and there are quite a few, she has over 121,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 8 million views on her lead video – can all vote for ‘Anyone I Want To Be’. And they don’t need to wait for Junior Eurovision to start, the televoting lines open up 48 hours before the show starts on Friday 23rd.

A glance at the current viewing figures of the official video clips shows a huge disparity. Wegiel’s video is currently sitting on 1.4 million views, while Bojana Radovanović’s ‘Svet‘ is on 65 thousand views. There is a huge disparity between the songs online performance, and that’s down to their personal fanbases.

An act with a strong following on social media that can motivate their fan base to get up and vote (and encourage others to vote) will have a notable impact on the final result. While there will be a component of Sunday’s show to attract new voters, it could be that the televote is effectively decided by the time ‘Te Duem’ rings out to open up Minsk 2018.

Arguably the music videos are for the televote, the stage performance is purely for the jurors to watch on the Saturday dress rehearsal/jury final, and the Sunday show is for pride. But if the music video is key to unlocking your televote, then delegations that can afford higher production values and increased marketing budgets have a distinct advantage.

One example in the difference in presentation can be seen between The Netherlands and Kazakhstan. Max And Sam’s official video is an edited version of the National Final performance, while Daneliya Tuleshova’s video (and Kazakhstan’s debut at Junior Eurovision) replicates some of the glorious excess witnessed by the rock bands of the eighties and nineties.

All of this is talking about victory in the final score table, but there are other ways to ‘win’ at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. From the step forward for a performer’s career, to the presence of a country on the international stage, Junior Eurovision can be the starting point for many new adventures.

We’ll explore those tomorrow.

Categories: ESC Insight

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