Bread & Jam

May 23, 2016 by

Bread & Jam

As always, the full points breakdown for the 2 semi-finals and the Grand Final this year has provided a lot of food for thought and plenty of surprises.

Heading to Stockholm this year, my strongest view (as written about in my pre-rehearsals analysis for subscribers) was that Russia was extremely vulnerable of falling down on the jury side of the equation offering the chance for another country to overtake it overall, most likely heralding from Eastern Europe:

‘With the change in scoring system this year, we need to revert to more 2010-2012 thinking in assessing songs. It is a different adding up process compared to back then but the way televote and jury points are being accumulated separately, rather than being amalgamated, with a low jury ranking no longer able to cancel out a high televote ranking, means televoting power should hold more sway.

With that in mind, it seems wisest to stick with (in theory) ‘safe televoting stock’ so Armenia, Serbia and Ukraine are advised as value e/w propositions at current best prices.

It could easily end up being a tight Contest this year and if this comes to pass it might mean we are heading for a default winner in the east, and a similar scenario to when Azerbaijan won in 2011. Many clearly think this is most likely to be Russia but with doubts surrounding the song’s jury appeal, one of these solo females looks best placed to take advantage. Performed and staged well, all 3 have the potential to be jury bait and earn plenty of televoting points.’

This proved prophetic with Ukraine triumphing and ending up the lynchpin of 2016 ESC profits. The Outright market always felt this year like the one to focus on, with a good chance of getting the short-priced favourite, Russia, beaten.

Bulgaria’s 4th place highlights how, sometimes, being at rehearsals can work against you. It was highly rated on first listen and pleasing to round up Bulgaria e/w investments on returning home as big as 100-1.

Initial impressions in Stockholm were, Bulgaria had ruined its chance with lousy staging. And yet, it ended up leaping out from the 8 slot – as the first burst of energy in the final – Poli performed it superbly and instead of suffering at the hands of juries, they rated it highly in 7th with a televote 5th pushing it into 4th overall.

Bulgaria won the Balkan battle with Serbia well and truly sunk. Top Balkan continues to be something of a Eurovision nemesis with Romania losing this in 2015 and Greece in 2014. This curse WILL be broken in 2017.

The Serbian autopsy reveals a nagging doubt that persisted throughout. Sanja’s spiky delivery and the red and black, extremely dark staging was maybe alienating for jurors and televoters alike, despite her stellar vocal.

My initial assessment was ‘Goodbye (Shelter)’ ideally needed to be staged like Serbia’s 2012 entry – simple, delicate and classy with instrumentation on the stage in the form of a pianist and violinists. This may well have seen it fare much better. Nonetheless, 23rd place on the jury side of the equation remains one of this year’s more baffling results.

France was a polarising entry among the betting community this year. Interesting that it was a 3rd place for ‘J’ai Cherche’ on the jury scale, where many thought France would fall down this year, that helped it into 6th place overall with a televote 9th dragging it down. A plum second half draw for Amir may well have seen France achieve a top 4 finish.

With the UK, Germany and Spain continuing to struggle this year, it is good to see France achieve its best finishing position since 2002. It is much healthier for the Contest if we see a competitive Big 5.

Sweden, meanwhile, only managed a jury 9th, its worst placing on the jury side of the equation since ‘Popular’ in 2011. It may well have been ‘vocal capacity’ that saw it penalised among many jurors. Latvia was popular in the betting market in the lead up to Stockholm but was always considered an over-rated entry here. 15th with juries and 13th with televoters does not entirely surprise.

The spectacular rise of Poland on the televote, pushing it into 8th place overall, perhaps tells us it now has a very strong diaspora across Europe to aid it. Staring at the 66-1 Poland to win Eurovision 2016 betting slips placed in February after first hearing ‘Cool Me Down’ one wonders how Margaret might have fared in this year’s competition with an, in theory, more contemporary, jury-friendly track.

Well staged and performed, bearing in mind how well the likes of Bulgaria and Belgium did this year with juries…? Belgium is certainly one that hugely surprised achieving 6th place with juries, and even managing to score higher than Ukraine with the juries in semi 2. That is a proper wtf? result.

Even more of a wtf? is Malta finishing in 4th place with juries in the Grand Final and topping the jury vote in semi 1, helping it to achieve 3rd place in semi 1. That simply doesn’t compute with all the analysing tools at my disposal, and brings to mind some similarly head-scratching results in 2013.

Estonia’s ‘Play’ sung by Juri was always considered a poorly chosen winner of Eesti Laul this year when there were gems like Mick Pedaja’s ’Seis’ and I Wear Experiment’s ‘Patience’ available for selection for Stockholm. Estonia finished a deserved last in semi 1, while Iceland’s Greta was way down in 14th.

The lesson taken on board here is to stick with initial assessments if songs do not transform, and improve on what is seen in national finals. ‘Iceland is likely to suffer due to Mans/Loreen comparisons and looks and feels far too calculated’ was written here back on March 25.

As anticipated, a high standing for Czech Republic, Netherlands and Israel among juries helped all 3 to qualify, though in terms of the top 10 it was a big drop on the televote side that proved the undoing for Douwe Bob and Hovi Star. Running order positions of 3 and 7 respectively proved a big drawback for both.

Croatia qualified in 10th place and perhaps wouldn’t have if Nina had been as off-key as she was on the Saturday night. Denmark was considered a dire boyband effort and it was good to see jurors concur, rating it joint last in semi 2. Norway did slightly better but still came up well short, as predicted.

The 4 from the last 6 qualifying ‘rule’ was obliterated in both semi-finals, with only 2 qualifying from semi 1 and 3 in semi 2. This was not surprising as we saw similar stat-defying results the last time SVT was involved in 2013, covered here, and it is never a good idea to be too reliant on past trends, especially in the tv betting world and especially when the EBU has made it its mission to make the semis more of a level playing field, and continues to try its utmost to allow all songs to stand out in the ‘producer-decided running orders’.

Bulgaria 5th in its semi-final, and 4th in the final is just one of this year’s anomalies. Serbia only qualifying in 10th in semi 2 remains a big surprise while the UK ending up in 24th is perhaps less surprising. Sending Voice rejects singing a generic pop song is not a recipe for success on the Eurovision stage and the UK will continue to underperform for as long as the BBC continues with its half-arsed attitude towards the Contest.

In terms of this year’s Eurovision subscription the overall recommended investment this year was only 183.25pts, down on 2014 (223pts) and 2015 (249pts). This highlights the sense of uncertainty that shrouded this year, and the struggle to unearth gilt-edged value investments.

Still, it was pleasing to provide subscribers with a +55pt profit this year, which equated to a return on investment of 30%. Which means that since EntertainmentOdds introduced a fully-audited, points-based system of tv betting recommendations at the start of 2014, the site has now made a level stakes profit of +357pts.

It was a tricky year with the new scoring sequence and what took place live in-running in the markets on the Saturday night summing up the volatility of the Outright. At least next year we will be better equipped to cope with it all.

It was a joy to accurately predict Ukraine as this year’s winner and correctly call the 1-2-3. After hitting the crossbar with The Netherlands  at 125-1 e/w in 2014 and Russia at 33-1 e/w in 2015 it felt like a well-earned winner.

The 2 weeks in Stockholm flew by. It was gruelling at times but also enormous fun. The Eurovision traders’ table is now firmly established and thanks to all the guys who help to make the ESC rehearsal fortnight the highlight of the tv betting year.

For now, it is a much-needed summer break for the site which will return in the autumn for the usual Strictly and X Factor run, Sports Personality of the Year coverage and then all roads will lead to Ukraine 2017. Looking forward to it already. In the meantime, it’s congrats to Jamala on her well-deserved victory.

Eurovision 2016 investment portfolio:

Outright pre-rehearsals:

(all e/w, quarter the odds, first 4 places)

Serbia – 0.5pt e/w – 25-1 – William Hill, Coral = -1pt
Ukraine – 0.5pt e/w – 25-1 – William Hill = +15.63pts
Armenia – 0.5pt e/w – 33-1 – William Hill, Coral, BetVictor = -1pt
France – 0.5pt e/w – 20-1 – William Hill, Coral = -1pt

Semi 2 pre-rehearsals:

Serbia – 1pt win – 6-1 – Boyelsports, SportingBet = -1pt
Bulgaria – 1pt win – 6-1 – SportingBet. There is some 7-1 available with bwin for those who can get on with them, 13-2 with Betway, 6-1 with Unibet/32 Red/888sport who are the same firm = -1pt


Bulgaria – 0.5pt e/w (first 4 places) – 22-1 – SportingBet. 20-1 widely available with William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Bet Victor, Betfred = +2.25pts

Day 1: No bet

Day 2:

semi 1 – Czech Rep – 0.5pt e/w – fifth the odds – 20-1 – William Hill = -1pt

Netherlands – 0.5pt e/w – fifth the odds – 20-1 – William Hill = -1pt

Czech Rep – to qualify – 30pt win – 2-7 – Betfred, Ladbrokes, bet365 (1.3 with Winner, Titanbet, Betsafe and Betsson for those able to shop around in the online bookmaker backwaters. The last named Betsson listed here for non-UK subscribers who might be able to get on with them) = +8.57pts

Netherlands – to qualify – 30pt win – 1-3 Betfred (1.35 bwin if you can get on there) = +10pts

Day 3:

Israel – to qualify – 20pt win – 4-9 – skybet, SportingBet, 2-5 – William Hill, Boylesports, bet365 = +8.9pts

Day 4:

Ukraine – to win semi 2 – 21-10 – 4pt win – Paddy Power (2-1 with Coral) = -4pts

Outright – Ukraine – 2pt e/w (first 4 places, quarter the odds) – 12-1 – Paddy Power, BetVictor, Ladbrokes = +30pts

Top Balkan – Serbia – 4pt win – Evens – BetVictor (shop around, you may find slightly better. 21-20 with Unibet) = -4pts

RUNNING TOTAL = +60.35pts

Day 5:

semi 1 – Iceland to qualify – 15pt win – 4-11 – Boylesports (1-3 with Skybet. You can get 2-5 with bwin and Betsafe, 7-20 with Unibet) = -15pts

Day 6:

Ukraine – top 4 – 5pt win – Evens – Betfred (9-10 bwin, 17-20 sportingbet) = +5pts

Day 7:

Georgia to qualify from semi 2 – 4pt win – 11-10 Skybet, Unibet (Evens with many other firms) = +4.4pts

Day 8:

Outright – Israel – 0.5pt e/w (quarter the odds, first 4 places) – 50-1 – William Hill = -1pt

Top 10 – Israel – Top 10 – 13-8 – Skybet – 4pt win (6-4 widely available) = -4pts

Day 9:

Armenia – Outright – 33-1 – 1pt e/w (a quarter the odds, first 4 places) – Ladbrokes = -2pts
Armenia – Top 5 – 5-2 – 4pt win – Boylesports & Unibet = -4pts
Armenia – Top 10 – 11-20 – 10pt win – Ladbrokes = +5.5pts

Armenia – semi 1 – 5-1 – 2pt e/w (a fifth the odds, first 3 places) – William Hill, Coral = 0pts
Armenia – semi 1 – top 3 – 1-2 – 10pt win – Unibet (5-11 with bwin) = +5pts

RUNNING TOTAL = +54.25pts

Day 10:

Netherlands – Top 10 – 11-10 – 5pt win – William Hill, Skybet, bet365 = -5pts

Top Balkan – Croatia – 0.5pt win – 8-1 – bet365, Paddy Power (this will get you your stake back on Serbia if Croatia does score higher on Sat night) = -0.5pts

Day 11:

Denmark – not to qualify – 1-2 – Boylesports – 6pt win (9-20 with SportingBet) = +3pts

Day 12:

Georgia – Top 10 finish – 14-1 – 1pt win – BetVictor (10-1 with Coral, bet365) = -1pt

Outright – Australia – 2pts e/w – 5-1 – Coral (a quarter the odds first 3 places) Skybet – 9-2 first 4 places (a fifth the odds) = +0.5pts

Day 13:

Latvia vs Serbia – head-to-head – Serbia 11-10 – Ladbrokes – 2pt win = -2pts

Belgium vs Netherlands – head-to-head – Netherlands 4-6 – Ladbrokes – 3pt win = -3pts

Forecast betting:

1st Australia 2nd Ukraine – 12-1 – 1pt win – Boylesports (16-1 Paddy Power) = -1pt

1st Australia 2nd Sweden – 66-1 – 0.25pt win – Boylesports = -0.25pt

1st Australia 2nd France – 50-1 – 0.25pt win – Boylesports = -0.25pt

1st Ukraine 2nd Australia – 40-1 – 0.25pt win – Boylesports (25-1 Paddy Power) = +10pts


PROFIT/LOSS = +54.75pts

ROI = 30%


  1. Guildo Horn Forever

    Congratulations Rob, on another stellar round of tipping! I really do hope your subscription service is being picked up in good numbers. Honestly, I think you must be one of the best (if not the best) tipster out there.

    I bet in a very wide range of markets and am aware of the results of many, many tipsters.

    On a personal note, ESC 2016 was ace for me. I’ve only been backing on the ESC for a few years now and my main bets this year were Ukraine at 25s (and down from that) and Belgium Top 10 at 12s, 10s etc.

    Elsewhere, I had some good-natured “discussions” while fighting the corner for the merits of Jamala and of Laura!

    Am still confused by many aspects of the ESC game, though. Looking at the jury results, I note that the entrants they rated highly happened to coincide with the ones I liked! This still confuses me as I don’t believe for a second that I think like an ESC juror.

    • Rob

      Thanks Guildo. Glad to hear ESC 2016 went well for you. Juries can be quite difficult to second guess. You did very well to pick out Belgium. I struggled to see its merit.

  2. Montell

    I think you made a mistake here
    Ukraine – 0.5pt e/w – 25-1 – William Hill = +18.75pts

    It should read
    Ukraine – 0.5pt e/w – 25-1 – William Hill = +15.63pts

  3. Rob

    Thanks Montell. I went through this in a sleep-deprived, state of exhaustion post-ESC final & didn’t double check.

    I will update.

  4. Montell

    Few of my thoughts about Eurovision 2016 from Eurovision fan’s point of view.
    First of all let’s agree that this year songs were pretty weak. I think if any song from Eurovision 2015 top 4 was competing in 2016 it would have won.
    I love the new voting system and I hope it stays. Results announcement stage is now so more exciting and unpredictable until the very end.
    I love that so many countries participated this year. I feel happy for countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Czech Republic. All are pretty bad at Eurovision but this year they managed to qualify to the final and Bulgaria even got a surprising 4th place. I hope this will encourage them to participate next year and up their game even more. The biggest losers in recent years are Macedonia and Switzerland. Macedonia qualified to the final only once in 9 years while Switzerland only twice in 10 years. I wish them best of luck and not to give up trying.
    I love Australia being in the contest and I would like that to continue but I think Australia would become one of those countries who always qualifies and always finishes in the top 10 because they can and it seems they take Eurovision very seriously.
    I agree with commentators from that Eurovision was more diverse and interesting when more countries were singing in their native languages. Nowadays almost everyone sings in English but I don’t think this trend is going to stop because English sung songs helps to reach out to more people and that’s what everyone wants. However, I would like to hear more songs not written by Swedish authors because they kind of all sound the same. What I really miss in Eurovision is some smashing ethno pop songs that Turkey used to send or original songs like “Bunica Bate Toba”or “Rändajad”. The more diversity the better for everyone.

    • Rob

      I see Jamala’s victory as a potential plus, Montell, in the sense it will hopefully encourage more ethno songs next year sung in their native language.

      I miss the diversity too & think the Swedish template has had far too much influence in recent years. Really hope Turkey returns to the competition also.

      Australia was heavily favoured by SVT this year & that is another aspect I personally do not like to see. There was a sense of nepotism this year in the Swedish approach. It is pleasing to me Christer Bjorkman can have no influence next year.

      I will commend the Swedes on the best 3 ESC shows we have probably ever seen, thanks to great script writing, high production values and the brilliant presentation skills of Petra and Mans.

      The new scoring sequence was an excellent innovation so credit where it’s due there. I still think a 1-26 jury ranking is too arbitrary & a simple 1-10 would be better.

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