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ESC Insight

Power To All The People: Understanding Melodifestivalen’s Voting System

Power To All The People: Understanding Melodifestivalen’s Voting System

Voting In Melodifestivalen Finals

Melodifestivalen’s voting system is one that is very comfortable to the modern Eurovision fan, after all it is the model that the Eurovision Song Contest uses nowadays.

It is a split of juries and televotes, with the number of points split between the two 50/50. Each of the juries presents their votes first, and the tension is kept high while we wait for the televotes to appear at the end of the broadcast.

A slight nuance between Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest is that voting is open not just during the performances, but lines are also open for five minutes after the jury results have been revealed. Perfect for your last minute tactical vote.

Each of those juries will vote just like in the Eurovision Song Contest. 12 points to their favourite, followed by 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This means only two songs will get zero points from each jury.

The televote has been in recent years a proportional system, the percentage of votes received was translated into a score so both juries and televoters gave our equal number of points. One major disadvantage of this system was that it led to very equal televote scores between the competing songs. This is especially true in Sweden as by using SVT’s app with free votes many viewers vote for more than one song. Nano won the 2017 public vote, but wasn’t close enough to challenge for victory then.

However that app this year has had a radical makeover, and that makeover has transformed the voting system. The people of Sweden will no longer be subordinate to those international juries – they will have the power to decide.

Power To The People

Melodifestivalen’s new app has the same interface as before, with viewers being able to cast up to 5 free votes per competiting song. What is different for 2019 is that on signing into the app you have to give your age. This puts you into one of seven different groups – with the youngest being from 3 to 9 years old and the oldest 75 and over. Members of each group cast their votes, but rather than a proportional result each group votes 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. There is also a phone vote option, which is worth the same as one of those seven juries.

According to SVT, if this system was in place for last year’s competition it would have resulted in the same 8 songs qualifying directly to the Friends Arena final. This means that we can assume the difference in song taste is marginal at best between those different age categories. A song scoring high points from the 3 to 9 year old block is likely to score high not just from the 10 to 15 year old group, but each and every group.

In 2018, the public voting spread from a low of 37 to a high of 67. This year I can predict a more ruthless public voting – perhaps multiple songs will have only single figures from the public while at the top end of the leaderboard many songs may comfortably score more than last year’s winner. The maximum number of points a song can score from the public voting is 96 (12’s from all eight groups), and a uniform favourite could hit the mark.

The voting sequence will feel more like that of older Melodifestivalen’s from before the App first existed in 2015. While Melodifestivalen Final voting has been mathematically 50/50 since the 6 week tour started in 2002, App voting gave significantly more than 50% of the power to the juries. Now the power of the 50/50 is almost certainly back in the hands of the televote. Miraculous escapes to victory, such as Malena Ernman’s comeback victory in 2009, are now back in the realms of possibility.

International Juries From Australia to the UK

To make it 50/50 voting – the eight public voting groups are matched up with eight international juries. They come from the following countries for 2019:

  • Portugal, Austria, Australia, Cyprus, France, Finland, UK, Israel
  • Many commentators have discussed how this spread of countries is very Western in background. This is a comment Christer Björkman, competition producer for Melodifestivalen, is well aware of, saying he hopes ’it will not make much impact.’

The issue is that the number of international juries has decreased from 11 to 8, so a geographical spread is harder to achieve. Personally, I don’t consider this to be a huge concern. Previous studies on jury groups has concluded it is who you watch the show with, rather than where you are from, which is a bigger factor in the overall result.

However, what is a concern in terms of finding the best quality winner is that we only have eight juries this year for Melodifestivalen. Jury voting is usually is far more random than it is uniform – which is not a surprise when juries are only made of the opinions of a handful of people compared to millions of Swedes. Christer Björkman is aware of this – and has described the increased statistical risk as ’scary’.

Putting both the juries and public voting together means there is an increased sense of the unknown when it comes to predicting this year’s Melodifestivalen winner. We have an incredibly strong odds-on favourite currently in John Lundvik, but with a jury vote and televote potentially harder to predict there are certainly no foregone conclusions at this point.

Trying To Model The Voting Sequence

To end this article, I’ve had some fun to try and create some ’fake’ voting using proxies to simulate both the jury voting and televoting.

First the jury voting. What I have done is found points from different fan forums across the internet. I have taken different 1-12’s from different websites, with different fans voting on them, and used that to create a jury score for that country. By searching for English language websites I hope to get an international opinion to the songs. I also used SVT’s Twitter poll as part of these pretend results – they had filtered for an international fan opinion and this gave Wiktoria the top ranking.

Model of the Melodifestivalen 2019 Jury Vote using data from international fan forums

For the public voting, I have combined different proxies in different amounts to create a suitable score. For younger audiences I have used YouTube views or Instagram followers, and as the voting group gets older I have used data from sources such as newspaper polls, Spotify streams or iTunes.

This would give a public vote as follows.

Model made by using different proxies to predict the public vote in Melodifestivalen 2019

The combined result of this is therefore the jury result plus the public vote.

The result of this mock voting combining the jury and public vote scores

Now, you are probably looking at these numbers and wondering how X could be high and Y could be low – and I agree. However the numbers here look like what the Melodifestivalen vote will appear as – it is a great example for how spread the final result may be.

I included the standard deviation here to show just how spread the data is. The larger standard deviation for the public vote shows how the public 50% now is more powerful than the jury 50%. There is more chance of a climatic finish to Melodifestivalen 2019 than recent previous editions.

What is important for ESC Insight readers is to be aware of what the results will look like because of the voting system. For a start there is zerochance of a record score on Saturday night – the low number of juries means simply less points are on the table. However the chance of seeing a song come close to a full televote from all ages would make big headlines. That’s a headline Frans couldn’t achieve in 2016 – he scored 50% more votes than 2nd place that year but so many app votes were cast viewers such a whopping televote still only took 14.4% of the total. Frans’ huge landslide barely made a dent on the scoreboard. A landslide on Saturday night could catapult an artist all the way up the leaderboard.

With this voting system we are going to get unpredictability, we are going to see drama, and we are going to see a song popular across all of the Swedish population winning the trophy. Let the best song win.

Categories: ESC Insight


Newsletter: More Countries Select… But Odds Still Favour Russian Victory In Tel Aviv

Newsletter: More Countries Select… But Odds Still Favour Russian Victory In Tel Aviv

Also in this week’s newsletter, Sweden complete the lineup for this Saturday’s Melodifestivalen grand final, tickets for this year’s Eurovision shows finally go on sale, and Ukraine make an unfortunate exit from the competition.

You can read the newsletter in full here, or subscribe for a regular dose of Eurovision insight and analysis delivered direct to your email inbox.

ESC Insight National Selection Playlist: Runners Up Special

Sevdisperi Zgva‘ by Liza Kalandadze (Georgia)

The runner-up in Georgia’s national selection, this elegantly haunting ballad probably wasn’t any more accessible to a broader European audience than the song that won, but with its sweeping orchestration and mournful delivery, it would have been a fine addition to Georgia’s impressively diverse Eurovision catalogue.

I Will Not Surrender‘ by Maxim Zavidia (Moldova)

Moldovan stage star Maxim Zavidia stormed the televote at O melodie pentru Europa on Saturday night, but low marks from the Jury left him stranded in second place behind Anna Odobescu. A rousing aspirational power-ballad that also incorporates some tribal elements, the cheese factor is high with this one – but Moldova have an enviable track record when it comes to turning Gouda into Gold.

The Bubble‘, by Adrian Jørgensen (Norway)

Speaking of gouda, Norway took a big gamble on Saturday night by pinning their hopes on the bonkers bubblegum confection that is ‘Spirit In The Sky‘ by KEiinO. Runner-up Adrian probably would have been a safer pair of hands with this professional, radio-ready Ed Sheeran-esque ballad. Frankly, we think they made the much more entertaining decision, but if all that Joiking sets your teeth on edge, this should prove much more palatable.

 ‘Igual A Ti‘ by NBC (Portugal)

Conan Osiris may have romped to a commanding victory at Festival da Canção on Saturday night, but his arthouse electro stylings are bound to prove sharply divisive. This soulful number finished in the runners up slot and, like Norway, probably would have been a safer, if rather less exciting choice from last year’s hosts.

Nema Suza‘, by Dženan Lončarević (Serbia)

As one of the biggest names in Serbia’s national selection this year, Dženan Lončarević could probably have been forgiven for assuming he had the ticket to Tel Aviv in the bag. Alas, it was not to be for this theatrical Balkan ballad, but the onstage knitwear antics will live on in our memories even if the song doesn’t.

You can stay up to date with all of the latest Eurovision news and analysis right here on ESC Insight. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight News Podcast: And Then There Were 41

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: And Then There Were 41

With a week to go until all the songs are submitted to the EBU, this weekend saw the last big rush of National Finals – just two to go this weekend but an album’s worth of internal selections need to be debuted as well. As well as keeping you up to date with the songs, we’ve invited Aftonbladet’s Tobbe Ek to explain the three strands of success woven into Melodifestivalen ahead of Saturday’s final.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: And Then There Were 41

The last ‘Super Saturday’ of National Finals are over, we have a country withdrawing, and Norway have started looking for their 2020 entry. Over in Sweden, Tobbe Ek has our latest Eurovision Thought about the success of Melodifestivalen.

Follow these links to find out more about Eurovision in Concert, London Eurovision Party, Riga’s Eurovision PreParty, Moscow’s Eurovision Party, Spain’s Preview Party, and Glasgow’s Ne Party Pas Sans Moi.

Remember you can stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight


What’s The Point Of Andra Chansen?

What’s The Point Of Andra Chansen?

Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest, is approaching the end of its travelling circus for 2019. Every song now plays on constant loop in daycares, offices and shopping centres around the country. However the Swedes have one week more to wait before they select their Song For Europe.

The situation is this. The previous four Saturdays SVT has topped the ratings continuously with seven songs battling for a place in the national football stadium Friends Arena. Each week two songs were selected to go directly to that big show, and another three were kicked out never to return.

The songs finishing 3rd and 4th in each heat, head to one final round. The format has changed slightly from year to year, but this year the eight remaining songs will drop off to four through winner-takes-all duels.

Welcome to Andra Chansen.

Eighteen Years of Second Chances

Melodifestivalen exploded into a six-show format with four heats, Andra Chansen and a Grand Final in 2002. In the early years Andra Chansen was run as a clip show – with the public voting on performances from the heats.

It was in 2007 when Andra Chansen first became an arena show in its own right, when the Rosvalla Arena in Nyköping opened its doors to a sell-out crowd. This year the show returns to Nyköping, a town probably more famous for its low-cost airport (cunningly called ‘Stockholm Stavska’) despite the efforts of the local tourist board. Melodifestivalen fever has taken over this town of under 40,000 people, with local shops blaring the tracks on loop down the high street.

Melodifestivalen flags fly outside the Nyköping Tourist Information Centre and Town Hall (Photo: Ben Robertson, ESC Insight)

However, despite there being 17 previous Andra Chansen rounds in Melodifestivalen’s history with 42 entries qualifying to the Final from it, only one has gone all the way to live the Sångfågel trophy.

Robin Stjernberg was the person to come back from the dead to win Melodifestivalen in 2013 with the song ’You’. Robin’s 14th place result in Eurovision that year is more than respectable, but compared to Sweden’s recent results appears a huge blip. It is Sweden’s only position outside the top seven in the most recent eight years of competition.

Sweden is now alone in having a selection format with a second bite of the cherry for songs to qualify to their local selection final, but back a decade ago such shows in various forms were common across all of the Nordics. The only other Eurovision song to qualify despite being knocked out of its first heat takes us back to Denmark in 2007, where DQ managed to shock to bring ’Drama Queen’ to Helsinki.

Swedish broadcaster SVT have in recent times been at the forefront of revolution in the world of the Eurovision Song Contest. The current voting system is a Melfest tried and tested method and international juries, a staple in selection shows since 2010 in Sweden, are now beginning to infiltrate selections across the continent. It’s therefore interesting to see Andra Chansen largely unaltered – a relic of SVT innovation over a decade ago.

It all leads me to ask, quite bluntly, what is the point of Andra Chansen?

Duels To The Death

The artists for Andra Chansen were introduced to the press in Nyköping by Competition Producer Christer Björkman. First they appeared as individuals, and then introduced pair by pair for each of the four duels taking place on Saturday night. What followed was one of the most fascinating pieces of sociology I have ever seen.

Anna Bergendahl and Andreas Johnson took their photo together, then left and stood stage left. And had a friendly chat together. Vlad Reiser and Nano appeared, posed for the camera, and then stood just a few metres behind and had their own little gossip. As did all the others too. Like children paired up for their first day at school, each of the acts stayed with and bonded with the person they are drawn against to battle. But the mood was so incredibly jovial and friendly; clearly the pressure is off this weekend.

“So the other day I was walking the dog and….” (Photo: Ben Robertson, ESC Insight)

One thing SVT are always immaculately professional with is creating results drama, even when the outcome appears most predictable. During each heat, the order of announcing the qualifiers is first one artist direct to the final, then the two Andra Chansen artists, and finally the last qualifier directly going to the final. This means that when the Andra Chansen artists are announced there are still three options open to them – reaching the final directly, heading the Andra Chansen, or going home dumped out of the competition.

How do artists feel at that precise I’ve-won-but-I’ve-not-really-won moment? Vlad Reiser, competing with the entry ’Nakna i Regnet’, was ”super happy” and ”so excited”, describing the overarching feeling as one of ’relief’. Fellow debutant Rebecka Karlsson also expressed pure joy when she knew she reached this round of competition.

”I didn’t event think I was going to get through – they called out my name and I was like ’are you kidding?’

“I get to do this all over again.”

For artists like Rebecka and Vlad, taking their first footsteps in this schlager bubble, reaching Andra Chansen is a really proud honour in itself. Vlad will now be duelling against Nano, the singer who won Melodifestivalen’s televote in 2017 while Rebecka must defeat 1993 winners Arvingarna to reach the Final. That these artists have done so well that they have reached this stage of competition and legitimately get to compete against such names is sign of success.

They also get to perfect and tweak their performances too. Both will offer a little extra pyro on stage this Saturday night, with all the acts I spoke to confirming they wanted to tighten up camera angles, try new costumes and unleash slightly tweaked choreography to really deliver a performance they were proud of.

When You Need To Listen One More Time

This year’s Andra Chansen is packed with star names in the world of Swedish Eurovision, with all the remaining four this year featuring in Melodifestivalen finals before, and two, Anna Bergendahl and Martin Stenmarck, actually winning the competition in 2010 and 2005 respectively.

Martin Stenmarck is now in his fourth Melodifestivalen appearance. He won on his 2005 debut, came to Andra Chansen in 2014, and was uncerimoniously knocked out of his heat in 2016 – in Melodifestivalen terms he has done it all. His 2019 entry ’Låt skiten brinna’ is a heartfelt track, describing it as a ’conversation I could have with my children’ with lyrics telling a message to breathe deeply and forget the terrible things others would say about you.

For Martin, there is an extra advantage to actually having to appear in the Andra Chansen round.

”I really wanted this song to have another chance – I wanted people to listen to it a lot and the message and the lyrics. It’s a song that grows on you so I think it’s not that bad that we are here in Andra Chansen for that.”

The rules of Andra Chansen do give extra flexibility for artists to promote the song they are performing. Direct qualifiers have to wait until after the last heat to release tracks commercially, but that is not true for those still in the competition via Andra Chansen, who can release directly after their heat. This meant that Martin Stenmarck, who competed in the third heat in Leksand, has had one extra week of radio airplay, Spotify streams and downloads for people to listen more deeply to the message he wants to put on stage.

Martin’s battle partner is 20 year old Lisa Ajax. I first saw Lisa performing in the 2012 edition of Lilla Melodifestivalen. She didn’t win there but has already had a blossoming career since becoming an Idol winner and two time Melodifestivalen finalist. Lisa told me how it was four years ago when she first recorded the vocal to the competing song ’Torn’ in a recording studio, but didn’t at the time feel an emotional connection to the heartbreak lyrics to do it justice. Years later and looking for material for a Melodifestivalen comeback, Lisa explained to me that she was the one who instructed her record label, Universal, to make it happen.

Torn’ is not just a lyrical new direction but a musical one as well. For years Lisa’s music has been decidedly teenage and poppy, to which her previous Melodifestivalen entries ’My Heart Wants Me Dead’ and ’I Don’t Give A’ are good examples. Instead ’Torn’ is a stripped back piano track filled with suspended chords and emotion to match.

For many regular followers of Lisa and/or Melodifestivalen, presenting herself in this new style can be a surprise – it may take a while for viewers to work out if they like the new Lisa or not. By reaching Andra Chansen Lisa has the opportunity to familiarise the public more with her new style and for the song to grow into the competition.

Only one of Martin or Lisa will be able to reach the Final of Melodifestivalen. Both of them are hoping that even more of the audience love their performance this week and that can carry them to Sweden’s biggest annual TV spectacle.

Modern Eurovision and The Many Paths To Victory

While both Martin and Lisa are proud of their extra chance to perform to the Swedish audience there is a mountain to climb for the acts involved to make it to Tel Aviv this May.

However that doesn’t make Andra Chansen a pointless exercise. Since Lena won for Germany in 2010 there have been a small smatterings of songs that ’went big’ before the actual contest in May. Lena’s entry ’Satellite’ became a radio sensation continent-wide well before arriving in Oslo – and that helped to cement what resulted in a comfortable victory there. It proved that flashy stage shows, gimmicks and loud vocals are not the only way to win the modern Eurovision Song Contest, and it provided another prospective path to victory for artists to take.

Andra Chansen, with the increased radio airtime that songs can get during the competition weeks, allows some less immediate songs a chance to build up a similar momentum with the Swedish audience. If kids have been dancing for weeks to your song at daycare then that is going to result in more support come Saturday night three weeks down the road.

I could also consider Jamala’s 2016 Eurovision victory as prime example as well. Comfortably defeated by Australia’s ’Sound of Silence’ in the Semi Final, Ukraine managed to pip both Australia and Russia to the post. One of the many reasons behind this switch was that the deep sentiment of ’1944’ needed time to capture the attention of press and viewers – it needed to build momentum. Martin Stenmark would be hoping for a similar growth.

For Lisa Ajax, performing again will give viewers another chance to see the new ’her’ – the new style of music she is presenting and it takes time for that to be comfortable to the audience back home. It’s a path to victory that almost worked last year for Felix Sandman. Previously a member of boyband FO&O, Felix presented the ballad ’Every Single Day’ at Melodifestivalen finishing 2nd place with both juries and televoters in the final despite the Andra Chansen stopover.

Yes, you can be instantly infectious and win modern day Eurovision, and many of Sweden’s already qualified finalists in Melodifestivalen deliver those goods so well. However there are many other ways to win, and the slow burn grower is now a completely acceptable way to deliver a perfect Eurovision winner. Andra Chansen provides a great safety net for SVT to ensure songs and performances can take the long, winding path to success with equal chance to those bombing down the motorway.

Melodifestivalen, The Leader of the Pack

So why have the other Nordic nations dropped their Andra Chansen offering? Probably for the same reasons many other countries have ditched long multi-week selection shows in favour of something more similar. To make longer formats successful they have to be a success – something that the artists want to take part in and the viewers still tune in for in droves. Only Sweden would be able to deliver a show on Saturday for people not good enough to qualify directly where the viewing figures will still be in the top 10 for the year and their most recent Eurovision winner will pop up to perform their new single.

I came to Andra Chansen skeptical in all honesty. I came with a vision of it being ineffectual and purely a chance of maximising the amount of TV coverage for each song – and to ensure more people can call themselves Melodifestivalen finalists. I left with a growing respect. It’s in this relaxed and nothing-to-lose environment the artists are able to make the final tweaks and the stories surrounding each performance are given time and attention to grow. I used to think it was wrong if an artist gained popularity at this stage and ‘overperformed’ in the final. My view on that has mellowed out, songs need to capture the imagination of the audience and some styles do just take longer to do that.

21st century Eurovision winners are going to win just as often away from the stage as they are upon it. Truly great National Finals don’t just have diversity of musical styles, but a diversity of ways you can capture the audience’s attention to seize victory.

It’s one reason Melodifestivalen remains the leader of the pack.

Categories: ESC Insight


Dare To Dream: The Issue Of Eurovision’s Affordability

Dare To Dream: The Issue Of Eurovision’s Affordability

Long before the curtain rises, The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 has already gone down as the most expensive Song Contest I have ever planned to attend.

Even though I hail from Australia, a country that is financially well-off when compared to most of Europe, the total cost of attending this year is the equivalent of every cent I earn in three months wages.

Given the popularity of Netta, before ‘Toy’ had even hit the stage in 2018 I started doing my research for whether attendance would be on the cards, reserving my 2019 annual leave, and saving for it started shortly thereafter.  I’ll be honest, the temptation was great to just pack it all in and take a trip around anywhere else in the world for a month and still have a lot of change left over.

Tel Aviv was never going to be cheap, as the cost of living in the city is the 31st highest in the world. Drawing up your budget, you will have to note that just the simple expenses such as day to day transport and food will likely set you back upwards the equivalent of 40 euros per day.  Compared to the likes of London, even a McDonalds meal will be 75 percent higher than what you would normally pay, and if you plan to drink, set aside around 10 Euros for a beer in a bar.

Tickets For The Greatest Show

As the public sale of tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest begins, the sheer fact that the ticket prices are roughly three times more than Lisbon’s is a hard pill for fans to swallow. With just 1500 positions in the arena available for international fans travelling to Tel Aviv, and no guarantee that one can get their hands on them, this is a fraught few hours for fans hoping to be in the audience.

This year, the official Eurovision website took the extraordinary turn to respond to the initial outcry over the ticket prices.  It claims on their ticket information page, “Being in the audience of the Eurovision Song Contest, while Europe and the world are watching, is an experience of a lifetime!”

The costs set are essentially marking attendance at the shows as a premium product, and just like the claims of a Mastercard advertisement, you cannot put a price on something that goes beyond being ‘just an event’, for most fans this is the key moment in our year.

Eurovision 2018 | Lisbon | ESC Insight

Eurovision 2018 | Lisbon (Image: ESC Insight)

OGAE fan clubs managed to secure around 500 ticket packages for it’s members, well down on previous years and in no way met the demand for this years contest.   However, even this information is misnomer, as the portfolio has split Jury shows and Live shows into two different packages.  With many opting only to attend the live shows, hundreds are likely to miss going to Eurovision altogether as the availability is so limited; and those who are lucky will have to be willing to spend up to 1000 Euros on the experience.

It seems that whilst the costs set for ticketing are not what we the fans would see as acceptable, they are not unreasonable. Even if we can’t afford the experience, rest assured they will be someone that will take up the chance to get themselves into one of the 4300 positions available for public on any given show in the venue.

It’s Bigger Than Us

It’s not just the fans who are feeling the heightened costs. As a host nation, Israel has the most to lose.  The broadcaster has already gone on record to say that ticket costs are in line with expenses, but it never expected them to be covered in full.  Financially, the cost of hosting a large-scale event is in the tens of millions.

Lisbon, with a good tourism infrastructure and venue in place still cost in the order of 23 million euros to make it happen  Despite what was seen as a low cost and low impact Eurovision Song Contest, it still failed to turn a profit in the immediate aftermath.  This has been the case for the majority of host nations that have hosted in the past decade.

Essentially, placing the Song Contest circus into a city like Tel Aviv is going to be a tough act to balance.  This years budget for the Israeli hosting is currently set at 28.5 million euros. Whilst the city itself is financially strong, the last time the nation hosted in 1999 the Contest was a very different beast; the stage and production was on a much smaller scale, it was a one-night affair, in an auditorium in Jerusalem that held 3000 invited guests. Even with all the consultation and notes that are provided to the winning delegation by the European Broadcaster Union, it was always going to be a steep and challenging learning curve to find enough resources to make the event happen at the quality that has come to be expected.

Tel Aviv by night (Image: cc/Wikimedia)

Tel Aviv by night (Image: cc/Wikimedia)

Tel Aviv was rightly selected as the best option to host the Eurovision Song Contest compared to the city of Jerusalem which hosted in 1999. Certainly the venue option Jerusalem offered – Pais Arena – was the best as it would comfortably have held over 10,000 people. But the winning elements for Tel Aviv are the nearby international airport, a well-developed public transport systems, a more secular community, and far more options for accommodation.  What we lose is the capacity to attend – in comparison, Tel Aviv will offer just 7,300 seats in total; the smallest venue for the Song Contest in two decades.  The city government however will try to compensate for this by providing multiple locations for any visitors to celebrate, with the promise of the biggest Euro Village ever.

But even those positives are not without their problems – with just 6,000 hotel rooms in the city limits holding 14,000 beds in a time of year where traditionally they are at a 84 percent occupancy rate, it’s going to be a tight fit.  May is traditionally a time when long-running business conventions are held in the same location, hoteliers are struggling and at odds trying to keep their regular business and benefit from the Contest being held in the city.

Euroclub | Stockholm | Eurovision 2016

Sweden’s Euroclub was a purpose-built temporary venue in the heart of Stockholm’s old town.

The provision of security has also been high of the list of priorities given the country’s security concerns, as well as stage invasions in the last two Eurovision Grand Finals. Israel’s Channel 12 reported that this has resulted in additional security measurements being put in place for the 2019 show that has both reduced the capacity of the venue and will feature as extra funding items on the budget for the broadcaster despite it being a State concern. And if the staging of Eurovision in Tel Aviv will have many areas and venues for fans to attend outwith the main show’s venue, this means even more need for security resources.

Looking at all of these concerns, it’s understandable that some guarantee of return is needed for a country that is heading towards what is a risk to its ‘destination reputation’ and almost guaranteed to be a financial hole for accepting the challenge of hosting.

Israel instead would surely be looking at this as a much bigger picture and a long-term gain. Let’s remember that the Eurovision Song Contest is a TV show first and foremost, and the money spent on it to be beamed into millions of households is an investment. The immediate game will not provide a return and bowing to fan pleas for lower priced tickets or extra seating is not going to make a difference – except where mainstream media may negatively report on its procedures and events. The ultimate aim is to have national imagery displayed that will hopefully entice many to visit its shores long after we have all gone home.

Official Israel Tourism website (

Official Israel Tourism website (

As for us, the fans, we should also look at this from a wider perspective.  I have surrendered myself to the fact that it is expensive, but I look forward to being in the company of my Eurovision family for that special time of year, and the opportunity to discover more beyond the walls of a press centre and see a new country that has long been on my wish list.

So whilst it is wonderful to think of the Eurovision Song Contest as ‘our’ fortnight away, it should be the crescendo, not the whole song.  The European Broadcasting Union is right… it is an experience of a lifetime, one which some people are lucky to have more than once.  Perhaps it’s not an affordable option for many this year, but it could be in years to come.

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Potato Denied

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Potato Denied

More Eurovision Song Contest results from the National Finals (some of them are even getting to go to Tel Aviv), a traffic cone stands in for something, and our latest Eurovision Thought is from Sharleen Wright on the cost of Eurovision and the power of finding 1000 true fans.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Potato Denied

The latest results from around Europe, more song release dates for your diary, and why spending money to sing at Eurovision is a good idea.

Remember you can stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

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