Linnets To Win It

May 10, 2014 by

Linnets To Win It

Trying to figure out the winner of Eurovision 2014 has proved the ultimate head-scratcher over the last 2 weeks, and pretty much throughout the entire ESC season. It has always had the feel of an open year, it’s an incredibly subjective year, and to a large extent we are hostages to the assortment of tastes among this year’s jury members.

Watching the jury performances last night, it didn’t become much clearer. Everyone seemed to raise their game and the sound mix, for whatever reason, enabled a good few lead vocalists to sound better than ever. It almost appeared like a few of them had a backing track.

It has been a vintage year as a trader of the Outright market. My position is the best it has ever been going into the live final in that it will simply be a case of managing greens on the perceived contenders this year.

This position has been enormously aided by latching on to The Netherlands before departing the UK – it always had the feel to me of an interesting dark horse – and jumping on board even more following an impressive first rehearsal. Having initially matched The Netherlands on Betfair starting in the 400-800 range, and continuing to be a backer all the way down to 12, it has been pleasing to see the price shorten even further to 5.2 at time of writing. This sort of scenario is a trader’s dream.

We have the list in which countries are announcing their results found here. There look to be some later announcing countries there who tend to go for quality songs, or are they Austrian-friendly, or is there a hint of UK love later on?

In five years of seriously analyzing and trading Eurovision I’ve never seen a more impressively staged 3 minutes of music than ‘Calm After The Storm’ which is one of the main reasons why going into tonight it remains my most likely winner.

Ilse and Waylon exude warmth and chemistry, and the tone of the entire presentation is pitch perfect and designed for tv delectation. With the song doing good business on iTunes across many ESC nations, and the added boost of the 24 draw, enough televoters should be charmed by it, to add to another consummate performance last night you sense may well have topped the jury rankings by some margin. Also in its favour, and an ESC rule outlined behind the ‘Douze Points’ link above – never under-estimate the appeal of a quality male/female duet at Eurovision.

Among the top 10 nations, betting-wise, in the Betfair top 10 market, you sense there have to be some surprise casualties. Austria and Sweden both feel like overhyped entries to me, likely to be favoured much more within the fanboy bubble compared to the wider ESC voting public. When you break it down, neither song amounts to anything special, and you wonder how Conchita can possibly score well in Eastern Europe.

What Sweden has done is cleverly polish ‘Undo’ and aid Sanna’s voice. Conchita’s vocal isn’t the best in the competition by any means either and the song is an old fashioned ballad you could imagine Shirley Bassey belting out. Her performance is like a piece of high cabaret with the burning phoenix backdrop, and you wonder if this is a bit of a Jedward 2011 scenario in terms of hype.

You also wonder if these 2 entries might dent one another given they arrive in close proximity in 11 and 13. And they have running order statistics to overcome if either is going to try and challenge for the win.

Denmark and Hungary have question marks over them too. ‘Cliche Love Song’ should, if the jury members in question have credible music taste, fall well down the jury ranking pecking order, and the presentation of ‘Running’ makes me wonder if it will prove too alienating to tv viewers tonight.

Ukraine and Azerbaijan have tough draws to overcome to achieve top 10 finishes. Of the two, you get the feeling Ukraine is the securer proposition and could even challenge for top 4/5. Mariya sells it so well and performed brilliantly again last night. Along with Greece, it is arguably the stand out uptempo pop tune this year and Ukraine should be boosted by plenty of sympathy in the west.

Ukraine could even challenge Armenia for Top Eastern European this year. It feels like Armenia missed an open goal with the staging of ‘Not Alone’ but even so, it would come as no surprise to still see it among the top 5 this year. The 7 draw also makes things a little tougher for Aram.

The UK, it seems amazing to write, looks a legitimate top 5 contender this year too. Molly did a top job last night and that 26 draw, along with the winner’s clothes of the fire curtain, should enable the UK to go higher up the leaderboard.

The other nation that looks a legitimate top 5 challenger is Greece. Again, the guys saved their best for the big jury performance, just as they did in the semi-final. The 10 draw could ultimately set Greece back a little but ‘Rise Up’ looks a very solid top 10 play.

So, the top 5 prediction here is: The Netherlands, UK, Armenia, Greece, Ukraine.

Switzerland stood out again last night, which is why it was earlier advised, following the first final rehearsal, at 9-2 to achieve a possible surprise top 10 finish. Another country which could prove some top 10 value is Spain. Despite not rating the song personally, Ruth did a top job selling it last night and in terms of solo female crooners this year, there seems no reason why she could not have achieved a very decent jury ranking. Factor in the 19 draw, and Spain has more going for it in certain respects than both Sweden and Austria.

Having written an article reminding ESC investors that top 10 value can appear among countries who have quality songs which end up on early, Norway in 5 stands out between the Iceland and Romania entries, and Carl saved his best for last night really belting out ‘Silent Storm’ with gusto. This could do something of an Ott Lepland. In the solo male ballad stakes Carl’s only competition is Montenegro which felt grey and pedestrian in comparison to the evocatively staged Norwegian song. Norway has certainly drifted out to an appealing top 10 price.

Last place betting is always plenty of fun. Belarus has enough allies to count on and San Marino should find some jury love from somewhere, so Germany looks a bit of value here at 5-1 with SportingBet. A weak song, sandwiched between Conchita and Sanna, and terrible staging which left Elaiza covered in streamers.

So, some bets to add to the portfolio:

Greece, top 10 finish, 3-5 with SportingBet, 15pt win

Spain to finish top 10, 5-2 with SportingBet, 4pt win

Norway to finish top 10, 9-4 with SkyBet, 4pt win

Dual forecast – Netherland/UK, 16-1 with Skybet, 1pt win

Germany to finish last, 5-1 with SportingBet, 4pt win

Ukraine, top 4 finish, 4-1 with Boylesports, 4pt win

Will be trawling all the ESC 2014 markets during the day so look out for further recommendations below in the Comments section. The best of luck with all your trading and please do feel free to add your opinions below, including any value bets you have spotted.

42 Comments

  1. hemsby

    Good luck tonight Rob and many thanks for all your articles over the last couple of weeks.The advice on backing Netherlands was absolutely inspired……if only I’d had the sense to listen to it 🙁

    UK,Spain,Denmark,Hungary,Greece and Ukraine are my biggest winners in order,although I’m far from confident given the price movements of Austria and Netherlands over the last few days.

    Have a great time tonight,and make a nice few quid….you certainly deserve to 🙂

    • steve

      Hi Rob will echo Hemsbys thanks. Have a stack of dirty each way doubles all going onto Denmark Ukraine Azerbaijan Hungary Greece I remain hopeful rather than confident. I have a massive green on Denmark so need them to shorten desperately. However thanks to your insight I have pulled Netherlands close to level just really need Sweden beat tonight, fingers crossed.

    • Rob

      Thanks chaps & good luck to you both. It has been a vintage year in terms of the Outright & the exceptional price movements, & assorted plunges on nations. Few people are confident in the outcome this year as it is a very subjective year.

  2. Henry VIII

    Well done Rob on having the best predictions as usual this series. I agree with your top 5 and also that the Linnets are the most likely to nudge past the rest.

    Except for the UK if this is to be believed:
    http://www.unrealitytv.co.uk/reality-tv/eurovision-hopeful-molly-smitten-downes-lost-voice/
    I know she performed excellently last night but it could have been pushing it for that Jury Final that finally finished her voice. She does have a bit of a Bonny Tyler type croaky voice. Have you heard anything?

    • Rob

      The Beeb guy here, Henry, reports her to be A1. Looks like The Sun doing its usual of making something up in its war with the other tabloids.

  3. Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Rob,

    have you read the Racing Post this morning?

    Their ESC tipster provides a full page breakdown, with each country’s chances summed up in a paragraph and with a star rating out of 5 (stars), in the style of a Grand National pull-out.

    As a regular reader of your site, Rob, I’m amused to read his description of the Netherlands chances,and his rating of the duo’s chances as being a 2 star chance!

    It’s clear from his description of The Netherland’s entry that he hasn’t seen the stage performance. His is a commentary that would have been relevant a month ago. It mirrors sentiments that I actually wrote a month ago!!

    I’m heartened-relieved to see that you can envision a very high finish for the UK. If I have a trading “book” then the UK column is so green it should be designated a SSSI.

    I jumped on the 33s last night for Netherlands-UK sf and helped myself to some 16s for the same combo as to the df. Just backed Neth-UK again at 28s. I’ve concentrated on a Neth-UK order because a) it seems more likely, b) if the UK pips the Neth then I’m ecstatic for my other bets, and c) it feels like my Molly is going to find just the 1 too good for her.

    Do you know what? I’m desperate for a UK win but I’ll be quietly pleased for you, Rob, if your dream tipping of the Netherlands becomes a winning reality later tonight. Your history of successful tipping at the ESC is surreal!

    I’ll now be a bit more pleased if the UK finish 2nd to them, mind!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      The Post guy tips the UK, btw (the 1-ESC-bet-Saturday-UK-punters will also be noticing a large picture of Molly on the left of the back page of the Post, too).

    • Rob

      Fingers crossed for your UK investments, Guildo. She certainly didn’t let you down last night in front of the juries, & the story in today’s Sun has been completely made up as given print deadlines she hadn’t even come out to perform in front of the juries last night when they were concocting that.

      The R.Post coverage is pitiful. I have offered my services for a tv betting column explaining it merited more comprehensive, professional analysis in the sports betting section. But they gave me short shrift.

  4. toby

    Can currently get 1.51 on Betfair for UK to get more than 1 douze points. Seems like good value and will probably shorten throughout the day?

    • Rob

      Hi Toby. That was 2.5 the last I saw at WH, if you can get on there. Agree it should be over 1 maximum. 12s from Ireland & Malta perhaps?

      • toby

        Ireland and Malta were my thoughts, also maybe hope for a random one – as in Bulgaria in 2011 and Greece in 2009. Thanks for the WH tip.

  5. neomichael

    Based on the Voting order I can see Netherlands being the 2nd country (after romania) having more allies on the second part of the voting procedure. UK instead seems to collect actually more points on the first part. hm…
    So for me there are two scenarios:
    Either UK will win and for once more the winner will be revealed far long before the end of the voting procedure,
    or Netherlands will win and hopefully i will not miss a fortune as i have recently balanced my exposure thanks to your post rob.
    Good Luck guys!
    My top ten:
    1 United Kingdom
    2 Denmark
    3 Netherlands
    4 Italy
    5 Armenia
    6 Greece
    7 Malta
    8 Azerbaijan
    8 Sweden
    10 Ukraine

  6. Ben Gray

    Hi Rob. Many thanks again for all your articles and advice this season.

    I’m hoping that the title of your article is going to jinx the Netherlands in the same way that your grand final preview last year suggested Margaret Berger was going to beat Emmelie. It wasn’t a bad call at all, I was on board with that theory myself for a short time, (even if I was mostly wrapped up in personal Cascada love,) and if we assume that Ukraine and Azerbaijan engaged in some foul play last year, then Norway might indeed have finished 2nd!

    But at this point in the game, all sorts of wild suggestions start flying about and things can get so confusing, so it’s helpful to just take one big step back to square one. If the Netherlands really had a chance to win this year with that song, we would have known and the betting odds would have reflected it before Tuesday. I agree that staging can make or break a song, but to turn a rank outsider into a winner is a little hyperbolic, isn’t it? I actually think it would stand a far better chance in the first half in amongst all the craziness from the Eastern bloc, Austria and Iceland… but while slot 24 makes them dangerous, I think that after Basim’s (I know it’s dirge but let’s face it) televoter catnip – too many people are going to find the 6 minute streak of Netherlands and San Marino too mature and pedestrian for their tastes.

    And then along comes Molly, dressed, and showered in gold. I was listening in on escXtra’s stream last night and I’ve also seen two in-stadium video recordings of the jury final performance. She performed with so much gusto and is really making her claim to the trophy. Being on last does slightly convert that “winner” edge into more of a “wow what a great ending” – but at the end of the day, it looks and sounds like a winner from top to bottom, even if it isn’t the song with the most impact, the most emotional uplift, the most commercial relevance, (though it has a fair amount of all of these,) it’s going to end up being the most agreeable. When I force myself to ignore all the doubt, all the hype, all the second-guessing and wild suggestions from within the bubble, I can’t see Molly getting beaten.

    In less than 24 hours time, we will know the winner and we will then sit back and watch YouTube clips of the other contenders and a part of our brain will come alive and we will think “why did we think this was going to beat that?” Try to put yourself in that mindset right now while watching the Dutch and Austrian performances. Of course it’s lovely, but really, what is there in those 3 minutes that really screams winner? I am feeling the unnerving pull of that hype for sure, but if I keep my impressions staunchly independent and go over all my notes, all I can find is that it’s sailing through to the final despite the lack of market faith but my gut suggested it wouldn’t best Anouk’s result. I do now think it will get higher than 9th for being more broadly appealing and radio-friendly than Birds, but even on Tuesday night, I was not watching that and thinking winner. I was just fascinated by the camerawork and beginning to understand what you guys were all talking about during rehearsals. I think Hungary is a more likely candidate for the trophy to be honest, but the current Betfair odds seem to be distancing him from the other favourites, which is reassuring for me.

    Moving on to Austria, I do believe there is potential for a Babushki effect in the voting, especially given the overwhelming amount of coverage Conchita has received. I’m actually irritated that I don’t go a single day in the last few months without seeing a picture of her. No, I don’t hate her at all, I’ve warmed to her via interviews, but if I think back to the Austrian national final in 2012 when I saw her for the first time, I was just so caught up in expressing my highest levels of WTF that I had a slew of “homophobe!” comments coming my way. I just had no idea what to make of Conchita, is it a drag queen, is it a transsexual, should I be amazed or should I be repulsed? That’s all cleared up now – but while the Babushki were universally appealing and loveable figures that brought instant smiles and fun, Conchita is not relatable unless you’ve faced similar discrimination in your own life. It’s not about homophobic or not homophobic. I’ve seen comments of Icelanders who haven’t got a clue what to say when they see her. Conchita herself has said in an early interview with Eurovision.tv “people don’t have to like it, they just have to accept it.” So the reality is, those people of the western audience who are liberal only have one less barrier to overcome than everybody else. Just because you’re liberal, it doesn’t mean you instantly love Conchita. The beard is ultimately going to be her best ally and her worst enemy simultaneously. If she really wanted to win, she should have entered a song that’s going to launch a pop music career for her. What she has entered instead is pure X Factor fodder, except with no VT that communicates her “story” to prep the viewer beforehand. All she has is 3 minutes on stage and a very equalising postcard to win all of Europe over, and she has to count on pan-European positive press coverage to act as her X Factor sob story video. It’s just not going to work.

    Rob, good luck tonight and the same to everyone else and may the best win.

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting your thoughts, Ben. I agree with your Conchita analysis. The ‘hype’ here has surrounded Sweden and Austria, not The Netherlands. The bookies are not all-knowing, all-seeing. They are guessers, like the rest of us.

      I happened to be in the perfect seat to see that 1st Netherlands rehearsal and react first. I am simply making calls based on what I see with my own eyes. Nothing more. That is why I am of the opinion Sweden and Austria will not win. They are not good enough to win imho. Austria does have the novelty factor but that invariably comes up short.

      If I was caught up in the hype I would be backing Austria heavily for the win because every time Conchita has sung it is greeted by rapturous applause here in the press centre.

      What you do as an investor in these markets is look at the odds and decide whether there is value there as a backer or a layer. Is the price correct, or wrong? I decided Netherlands was massively over-priced based on what I saw. Clearly many have agreed. With all these gambles though there is inevitably a lemmings effect.

      Would be delighted if the UK wins – it’s a massive green for me. Good luck with your bets 🙂

    • neomichael

      “When I force myself to ignore all the doubt, all the hype, all the second-guessing and wild suggestions from within the bubble, I can’t see Molly getting beaten.”
      So true Ben as well as the rest of your analysis.

  7. Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Rob,

    You conclude, ‘…please do feel free to add your opinions below, including any value bets you have spotted.’

    From your analyses, I see that you think Germany is a contender for last place, that Poland isn’t going to threaten the upper reaches of the leaderboard and that Austria and Hungary are over-rated, with neither making your Top 5.

    Which leaves an 18/1 bet, yes?

    • Rob

      Not sure regarding the 18-1 you are referring to, Guildo?

      Poland I think may struggle to reach top 10 but not traded that one as it could be a massive televote hit tonight, and you never know, it could sneak 10th – Poland could do with a good result on its return.

      Austria and Hungary could easily be top 5, Guildo. I’ve just provided a case for thinking they might disappoint, along with Denmark. But it would be no surprise to see all 3 in the top 10. It’s all about value, & trying to find trading angles. You have to expect some surprises among the top 10 – I’ve never known the betting market get it exactly right.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I’m typically so unsubtle, I thought I’d try being slightly cryptic, for once!

        By process of elim., The Swiss to rank as Top Central Europe finisher at 18s with Murdoch’s bunch. I know you (& me too) rate the Swiss entry highly.

        • Rob

          Ahhh, ok. Sorry – fatigue well & truly set in.

          It’s a good spot – that does look decent value.

  8. Matt

    As is customary, I am posting my top ten below. Loads of wonderful advice from Rob and in the comments too, so a massive thanks from me to you all.

    I might be letting my heart and bank account rule the order of my top two but like Neo, Guido and Ben, Molly just ticks every box im looking for…

    1 UK
    2 Netherlands
    3 Ukraine
    4 Sweden
    5 Austria
    6 Hungary
    7 Denmark
    8 Armenia
    9 Norway
    10 Swiss

    Think Greece might nick one of those last two but all in all, its a list im happy with.

    Have a great night all
    Matt

  9. Sheila

    I think Austria might do it. I watched last 4years of the show’s semi finals and each winner had recieved the biggest cheer from the crowd (I understand making up of the crowd and meaning of Austria etc) i still feel the crowd at the arena predict the winner by the semi – I have used this way to predict the winner and she/he by far wins. Although I’m not there i feel the tv viewer gets roped in with crowd and votes that way.

    Although I only got it at 20/1 I think Azerbaijan are the underestimated song – look at their history yet stuck at no.3 spot Denmark and Albania have performed at same spot and got top 5. With the amount of televotes the recieve I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • Rob

      Azerbaijan has been surprisingly friendless in the markets, Sheila, given its amazing track record at the ESC. The feeling is, this could just be the year it misses out on a top 10 as sort of a punishment for last year’s goings-on. So no brown envelopes handed round or Lithuanian students multi-voting. Of course, it could yet surprise and get in the 10.

  10. Gert

    I am Dutch myself. But at this point I think Netherlands is slightly overhyped.

    Yes, Netherlands stands out pretty will in this field of 26 finalists. I like to mention Belgium 2010 here. That final result was 6th overall from grid #7.

    But the televote ranked it down to 14th place. Obviously due to the rather weak running order for Belgium.

    And yes, the jury vote then helped Belgium considerably: 185 points for the Belgians. Only 2 points below the 187 points from Germany.

    But the fact that the juryvote always looks more “carefull”, more nuanced (With that I mean a favourite among juries is always less clear than with the televoters. Hence the total points given to the winner, which is always considerably lower than with the 100% televote), made it for Belgium difficult to enter the TOP 3.

    If Netherlands will be close to a victory, then it will be severly helped by juries like it helped Italy in 2011 (251 points with the 100% jury, which IS a bit of an exception on the rule). The 100% televote voted it down to 11th place with 99 points. Overall, the result was 2nd with 189 points.

    So I expect something similar with Netherlands this year. I need to point out that, like you mentioned several times Rob, Netherlands has a far better starting grid than Belgium 2010 and Italy 2011.

    Still, I don’t think it’ll bring the 100% televote for Netherlands in the TOP 3. I guess it’ll be something like this for Netherlands:

    210 points, 2nd place: 100% jury result
    120 points, 8th place: 100% televote result
    _____________________________________________
    170 points, 5th place: overall result, 50% jury, 50% televote

    And as we all know, in order to win you need to have strong backing from both televoters and jury panels.

    Having said so, IF Netherlands wins tonight, then I’m pretty damn certain that for the first time the Eurovision winner will not have won with the 100% televote. Then the winner of Eurovision will be one that came 1st with 100% juries and ended on a lower ranking with the 100% televote.

    But still I’m quite convinced Austria will win tonight. And comfortably so. TOP 3 with 100% juries and 100% televote.

    • Gert

      By the way, I had a closer look at the running order of the spokespersons.

      The 2nd half of the voting, from spokesperson #23 (Norway) towards the last spokesperson #37 (Slovenia) have been given the most set of points to Netherlands in 2013. Except Moldova, Spain, Italy and Ukraine, Netherlands received a lot of points from the countries in the 2nd half of the voting:

      Running order for spokespersons of Eurovision 2014 compared to “Birds”, Anouk, Netherlands 2013:

      #23, Norway: 8 points
      #24, Estonia: 7 points
      #25, Hungary: 5 points
      #27, Ireland: 6 points
      #28, Finland: 8 points
      #29, Lithuania: 4 points
      #30, Austria: 8 points
      #32, Belgium: 12 points
      #35, Switzerland: 4 points
      #37, Slovenia: 7 points

      BUT, that running order for the spokespersons could also point towards a late surge for Austria, as it includes Hungary, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia

  11. Rob

    Run out of steam a bit here but one last one for the official ESC 2014 book:

    Who will Russia award its 12pts to? Armenia – 2-1 Ladbrokes – 6pt win

    Aram did an enormous amount of promo in Russia pre-ESC 2014 & is a big star there. It looks the value bet in that market.

    Good luck to all readers tonight 🙂

  12. neomichael

    Well.. maybe UK did’t performed that well as we were expecting however thanks to you Rob i have backed Austria at 34 after the first rehearsal -> http://staging2.entertainmentodds.com.cp-uk-2.webhostbox.net/wp.cp-uk-2.webhostbox.net/wp/eurovision-song-contest/phoenix-flames/
    Good advice also to back netherlands when value was high enough.
    It’s interesting that both songs had tremendous values during first rehearsals.

  13. Rob

    Hope it was a profitable evening for all readers 🙂 If you blindly followed the list of bets provided here, you would have come away from ESC 2014 nicely in profit.

    A full analysis of those bets will appear in due course, along with some analysis on the new data at our disposal which is still to be fully sifted through. Just returned to UK, shattered after a relentless, exhausting, exhilarating 2 weeks.

    Counting down the days to Vienna 2015 already 🙂

  14. Matt

    An average year for me Rob – nicely profitable but my worst year since 2010. Got eight of the top ten and five of the first six but the UK’s failure stole a lot of my profit. To be honest only the trading prevented three months of work going up in smoke.

    Will spend Tuesday undertaking the post mortem and trying to learn from an unusual year. The fact that Austria and Nl came from nowhere in the final week from long odds is intriguing. Similarly the top three at 8pm ending the top three might show the value of following the money in the future.

    Well done Rob for great words and advice. Will catch up very soon no doubt.

    Thanks

    • Rob

      It was another tricky year, Matt, and easy to get caught out. UK & Greece both expensive failures. For me, the overall profit came courtesy of Netherlands mainly & backing at big prices to win semi 1, the e/w element landing backing Netherlands on the Outright at huge prices, & backing Austria at double fig prices to win semi 2. Semi Q/NQ wins mainly came courtesy of doubles landed across both semis.

  15. Ben Gray

    Top thing learned this year – homophobia in Eastern Europe is overrated, and the televote in some countries can be quite concentrated, they won’t be representative of the entire population.

    This year I chose the UK not out of patriotism, but by looking only for the textbook Eurovision winner. “Personality” was definitely on my radar thanks to Eurovicious’ stellar articles over at Sofabet, but I guess Molly’s complete package didn’t have enough of it. The whole thing must have been too formulaic. Still, I don’t quite get 17th, I know the performance lacked impact, she sounded a hell of a lot better in the jury final. Poor girl must’ve been nervous as hell. We were really missing that echo on the vocals as well – Mike from ESCKaz asked Molly about that in a press conference, she didn’t know what to say, but said she would ask the sound engineers about it. Wonder what happened there? Did they just not think of it? Surprised about that.

    Conchita, well well well… hats off to her. The signs were there weren’t they. Phoenix wings bursting from her shoulders, golden dress, bucketloads of personality, a clear narrative communicated effectively with a rousing, uplifting song. I should be banging my head on the desk for not seeing it.

    I thought it was too gay and old-fashioned to win given how contemporary all the other recent winners have been, but this isn’t a change in trend. Eurovision has pretty much always been a contest where the entry with the most connection is made with the public. They don’t go for just one specific type of winner. It comes back round to my theory from 2013 that I paraded around to justify Cascada…. all the winners and recent top 5s have consisted of either a radio friendly, chart worthy song, something of a timeless high calibre, or an accessible novelty. Sometimes a combination of these. Lordi, Verka, Babushki and now Conchita join the latter club. Accessible was the question really. We all took Eastern Europe shunning her out of rampant homophobia as a done deal. Did anybody actually ask “what if they do vote for her?” Simple question and a simple answer.

    Next year, I’m looking not just for the radio-friendly uplifting song with the relatable, attractive performer, but how much personality is contained within the package. Molly’s staging must have just been a bit too bland. Every winner does need to have a bit of a theme on stage, people need to be able to know what the song is about. A plain “music first” performance might not be enough unless the song is about music in some way, so to speak. Textbook winners like Only Teardrops and Running Scared can only be considered winners when there’s nothing more special with mainstream appeal to vote for.

    Gosh, that really highlights just how poor the 2010 line-up was!

    Anyway, when I got the Facebook message from my Mum after Conchita with the exact same three words she sent me after Only Teardrops, “that’s the winner.” I layed whatever I could, still terribly reluctant to do so with the UK, and asked her if she thinks the east would vote for Conchita. “Why not?” she said. Didn’t know what to make of that, could’ve been ignorance, but obviously not. I limped home having just about broke even. Very deflating considering the months of analysis that went into this.

    It seems that when people see their winner, they cling to it, and it takes a lot to change their minds… or maybe that’s just my Mum. The first half can’t be a write off any more, only the first quarter… because in a producer led running order, they won’t put anything that they want to win on in the first quarter.

    Remarkably, after Molly performed, I got that horrible feeling in my gut that winced in heartbreak and said “ugh, underwhelmed” and I had to make myself keep the faith. I messaged my Mum again (before the voting has closed) to ask her what else stood out to her, and in no particular order, she said she “liked” all the countries that ended up in the top 6. Unbelievable. Rob, get us some press accreditation for the dress rehearsals next year and we’ll shut this s**t down!! 😀

    • Rob

      Ben, your mum appears to be ‘the wise woman’ when it comes to predicting Eurovision. Maybe you should bankroll her next year 🙂

      I am always interested in the views of family members hearing ESC songs for the 1st time. This year, I ran a CD of semi 1 songs past my brother. Not knowing where any of the songs came from, he said the only one he rated was track 14. This at least encouraged me I wasn’t crazy in thinking Netherlands was a real dark horse this year.

  16. Jamie

    Hi Rob,

    I hope that you have recovered from your trip to Denmark. I haven’t posted this year but I have been reading your views and, as usual, have found them useful.

    As always, my favourite song didn’t make it out of the national finals (High Hopes by Linnea Dale in Norway). The songs that did qualify were mostly very mediocre. However, as I’m a trader rather than a position taker, that was good news as it resulted in a very volatile market. My highlights were backing Netherlands at three figure odds and laying Armenia at odds on. The BBC should be applauded for choosing a younger artist but the song was still pretty poor. A step in the right direction though.

    I know that you like to review the year so I thought I would post some statistics based on the detailed scoring data for the final published by the EBU. You can access the statistics via the link at the end of this post. Details are as follows.

    Split results: Scoring and rankings for jury only and televote only. Note the colours I have used to highlight different rankings as I have used the same colours in later sheets to highlight patterns in the detailed scores.

    Individual country scores:

    Austria
    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Poland – death by jury. Well done to Italian juror 5 who bucked the trend
    Russia – juries voted more politically than televoters except in Denmark.

    Individual jury scores:

    Armenia – jury voted against Azerbaijan but also against every other country which might be perceived as a threat to an Armenian victory (except Netherlands for some reason)
    Azerbaijan – very low intra-jury differences in scores. No way did they arrive at these scores independently of each other
    UK – very high intra-jury differences in scores. Contrast with Azerbaijan.

    Low jury difference: highlights all voting where intra-jury differences in scores were 0, 1 or 2. Montenegro jury even more suspicious than Azerbaijan with 18 scores on this list.

    Jury heat map: summarises jury scores by country and ranking e.g. 33 jurors gave Austria rank 1. Chart is called a heat map because different colours are used to highlight which country/rank combinations occur with highest/lowest frequencies. Austria/1 is shown in bright yellow as 33 is the highest frequency on the chart. Country/rank combinations with 0 frequency are shown in black. Combinations between 0 and 33 are shown in shades between black/red/orange/yellow with lighter shades indicating higher frequencies. It’s easier to see this visually than explain it in words.

    The heat map shows that individual jurors particularly favoured Austria, Sweden and Netherlands as you would expect. At the other end of the scale individual jurors particularly didn’t like Poland, San Marino, Greece and, to a slightly lesser extent, France. The most striking thing, though, is how widely spread the jury scores are for many countries e.g. Norway. The idea that there is a common jury view of song quality is well wide of the mark.

    These statistics should be accessible at the following address:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vNt4ZEcQYKy3C030JswMAa_be4dvX_cw0TfyNyIZumo/edit?usp=sharing

    Can you confirm that you can access the statistics ok. Can you also confirm that you can read them but that you can’t change them. I think I have set the access permissions to allow anyone read-only access but I haven’t done it before so I’d like to confirm.

    I might do some further analysis but not for a few days. It would be possible to break the jury scores down by juror age and gender but I’m not sure that would help much from a betting point of view. Are there any other types of summary analysis you think would be useful? If they’re few in number and easy to do then I’ll add them to the spreadsheet. I have the raw data for the semi finals too but haven’t done any analysis yet other than the jury/televote splits.

    • Rob

      Hi Jamie. This is great analysis & kind of you to share. It all looks fine to me clicking through to the data, though will need a few days to fully take in. Still in post-ESC house-keeping mode & it takes a while.

      We have all this new data to take in. I had already clocked the very dubious jury results from the likes of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Montenegro… if the EBU are happy to disqualify Georgia, I don’t understand why these jury results were accepted.

      The way the juries have nullified big televoting hits like Poland doesn’t look remotely fair to me. I think there will be pressure put on the EBU to revert to the old 2012 scoring model.

    • Jamie

      Boki,

      The scoring system must have been changed in 2013 for a reason. It seems likely that there was something in the 2012 result which caused the EBU to push the balance between televoters and jurors in favour of the jurors (at the behest of their western paymasters). If you look at the 2012 result, and assume that no-one cares about the result further than the top 10, then the clear anomalies are Russia and Turkey. The fact that Turkey dropped out of the contest as a result of the introduction of the 2013/2014 scoring system suggests that they thought that the EBU was pursuing an anti-Russia/Turkey agenda.

      So how could that be consistent with your point that the Russian Grannies were 11th with the juries?

      The Grannies scored 259 points (average 6.3) in the overall result. They received points from 40 of 41 countries (Switzerland was the exception). Their points were distributed as follows:

      12 1
      10 5
      8 8
      7 7
      6 5
      5 3
      4 6
      3 5
      2 0
      1 0

      We also know that their televote-only points were 332 (average 8.1) and their jury-only points were 94 (average 2.3).

      If we assume that the vast majority of their 94 jury points came from the 14 (mostly eastern?) countries which awarded 8-12 points (average 6.7) then that would mean that the other 27 juries awarded them 0 points.

      If we further assume that most of those other 27 juries would have marked the Grannies near the bottom of their rankings under the 2013/2014 scoring system then they would have negated the televote in their countries (as per Poland 2014) and resulted in 0 points being awarded in the overall result. This would have reduced the Grannies score from 259 to 126 – a major difference.

      My assumptions are rather rough and ready but the facts point to a very skewed distribution of points from juries i.e. the 2013/2014 scoring system is designed to allow western juries to negate the scoring of televoters AND eastern juries. The 2014 scores from many of the eastern juries are consistent with this hypothesis.

      • Boki

        Thanks Jamie, I agree with the points you make completely. It’s clear why the new system was introduced, the problem remains that west praise it and east withdraws.
        My only remark was that people sometimes think that eastern juries will always award Russia no matter what they send but 2011 showed they could also end up last even with the old system.

  17. Jamie

    The EBU are in a difficult position. The western countries which pay their bills keep pushing them to introduce scoring systems that favour mainstream western songs at the expense of left-field western songs and ethnic/eastern songs. This causes eastern countries to threaten to leave, so punishing eastern juries risks more countries leaving and setting up a competitor contest.

    The publication of the full results this year should act as a catalyst to improve the jury scoring in Azerbaijan, Armenia etc. It will be interesting to see how these juries change/improve next year.

    Regarding the differences in jury versus televote scoring for songs like this year’s Polish entry, I think this is a problem with the whole concept of Eurovision voting. With around 25 songs in the final, the average song will get about 4% of the televote. In a year with no outstanding song like 2014, I would imagine that a song can win the televote with 10-15% of the vote. A marmite song could easily gain this level of support (like Wagner etc. on X Factor). The problem is that there is another 85% of people who are either laughing at the marmite song or taking offence (like one of the UK jurors). The juries were re-introduced specifically to prevent marmite winners like Lordi who were musical marmite and Molitva which was geographical marmite.

    I don’t think that going back to the previous system is the right answer. That system allowed the Russian Grannies to reach second place. Without an outstanding song like Euphoria, they could easily have won.

    The best answer may be to change the balance between jury and televote to, say, a 60%-40% split in favour of the televote. Alternately, use App-based voting only and allow televoters to rank all songs and/or vote negatively as well as positively in order to negate the marmite.

    • Boki

      Great analysis guys!
      I also believe like Rob that the new system gives to much power to few individuals but I doubt EBU is going to revert to the old one. Btw juries didn’t actually punished grannies as we thought they would. They were 11th in ranking while previous Russian entry (Alexej) was dead last.

    • Jamie

      Boki,

      I have posted a reply to your May 14 comment but it has appeared in the wrong place in the thread. Sorry about that.

  18. Ben Gray

    I think a good solution to the voting system is to keep the current one, but neutralise its ability to punish songs.

    I haven’t completely thought this through, but any reason that this wouldn’t work doesn’t immediately come to mind.

    Give the 11th-15th placed songs a shout by keeping the current ranking system, but then any ranking from 16th place down to last should have the same points value. It’s kind of mixing the current system and the 09-12 one.

    This should theoretically reduce the juries power to overturn the public. Diaspora is a relentless problem which needs to be addressed – I’m convinced Poland didn’t win the UK and Irish televote on entertainment value alone. You could also argue the diaspora vote was strengthened for Poland by the very subject matter of their entry, national identity.

    However I don’t think going back fully to the 09-12 system is the right thing to do. It seemed to be quite ineffective in 2012, which had a voting sequence that I remember felt a lot like the dark days of 2007 and 2008.

    That said, the 09-12 system is at its core, a compromise of opposing views between the public and juries. A begrudged medium, so to speak. Morally, we don’t want a system like that crowning the winner.

    The ranking system instead rewards the most agreeable entries, and this is clearly displayed in the 2013 and 2014 scoreboards being so concentrated on a small number of songs towards the top… meanwhile, a rogue 12 points fired off to someone languishing near the bottom of the table can see them shoot up 5 or 6 places. It makes the winner a compromise of a happy medium instead, but it also reduces the excitement, unless it’s a very close two or three horse race at the top… and that means nobody’s paying any attention to the right hand side of the scoreboard.

    That’s more of an inevitable side effect of the ranking system though, and I think it’s important that everyone can understand why an act won. Reducing the ranking to that of a top 15 should, in theory, neutralise the conflict while maintaining the benefits of a less absolutist voting system.

  19. Rob

    Thanks for posting, Ben. I think the current system needs to be changed. One of the main problems for me is, the grey area that exists in trying to rank songs below 10th place.

    I like the idea of your compromise. Why punish Poland when it was one of the most entertainingly staged songs, very well performed and as a song has proved a massive hit on YouTube? For juries to suddenly be prudish and punish it, seems extremely unfair & small-minded.

    I always thought it would be a huge hit with British televoters regardless of the Polish diaspora in the UK.

    The singing grannies from Russia finished 11th among juries in the 2012 final. That as a song and as a pop package was much weaker than Poland 2014 imho yet its respectable jury showing allowed Russia to win its semi in 2012 and finish 2nd in the final.

    Russia 2012 should have finished lower, Poland 2014 should have finished higher imho – maybe your compromise would have enabled this to happen.

    • Ben Gray

      Yes, I believe a top 15 ranking system would indeed have enabled these things. Although Russia’s televote in 2012 was so strong, that I don’t think a mild drag of 11th in a jury vote would be enough to stop the Grannies from placing.

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