Eurovision Rule Change

Jul 14, 2011 by

There will be a change at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest with televoting only commencing after the last song has been performed. In the last two years viewers at home have been able to vote from the start of the show. So the question is, what impact might this have on next year’s televote?
Many believed that by allowing televoting to commence immediately, this would cancel out the perceived bias of songs performed late in the show. But in the last two years, songs drawn 22 – Germany in 2010 – and 19 – Azerbaijan this year – have won the ESC suggesting the late draw bias remains.
Pre-2010, televoting began at the end of the show so this is essentially a revert to the old way of doing things, though the current voting format of 50% jury vote, 50% televote has only been in place since 2009.
Televoting was first introduced to the ESC in 1998, but 2009 is the only year that gives us an exact replica of what we will see in Baku next year. In 2009 it is interesting to note that 3 of the top 5 countries had late draws – the winner, Norway, drawn 20, Turkey, which finished 4th, drawn 18, and fifth-placed UK drawn 23.
Looking at the top 5 on the final leaderboard in the last 5 years, 16 out of the 25 songs were drawn 17 or higher, again suggesting that no matter when the televoting window opens, songs drawn late have held an advantage.
It is not impossible to overcome an earlier draw. Turkey won in 2003 when drawn 4; in 1998 Israel’s winner, Dana International, was drawn 8; and Ukraine’s ‘Wild Dances’ sung by Ruslana, won from the 10 berth. But this was in an era of bloc voting, and when the effects of diaspora held sway to a much greater extent than today.
Of course, you still need to assess a number of key factors – a nation’s voting friends in the final, the songs drawn close by, and ultimately how good the song is and how well it is staged and performed, but leading into this year’s final in Dusseldorf it certainly was considered the final piece in the jigsaw for Azerbaijan backers when it was drawn 19.
Among those songs drawn early, Azerbaijan’s 5th place with ‘Drip Drop’ in 2010 from the 1 slot is the best recent placing, though we would also suggest when a song truly stands out in the field, it can still overcome a single figure draw. Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’ won in 2009 from 20 but was so good, we reckon it would have won from anywhere that year:

In conclusion, we would suggest the bias towards songs drawn late may be slightly exacerbated next year, assuming we see some of the better songs in the contest being drawn late and aligning with some of the other important variables that come into play.
Rob Furber
(additional research by Declan Furber)

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