New Order

Apr 19, 2024 by

New Order

There’s been a lot of talk about the ‘producer’s choice’ addition to the running order allocation draw for the ESC 2024 grand final. Maybe too much talk…

Whenever Sweden hosts, the rules are always tweaked. It must be written in stone somewhere. We saw changes in 2013 and again in 2016. And now this. It’s almost as if the Swedes wield greater power over the Contest than the EBU.

There will be six first half slots, six second half slots, and 13 ‘producer’s choice’ which gives show producer in Malmo, Christer Bjorkman, more chance to flex his muscles and favour some and put away others.

That’a a big shift of power towards the show producer because it essentially means Bjorkman will have a list of 19 options to play with in creating each half, with Sweden already opening the grand final. It has also been confirmed the Big 5 will be the first to draw this year during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.

The introduction of the producer’s choice is being brokered as giving more scope for all songs to stand out and to create the most exciting running order possible. The EBU/SVT’s main hope will be avoiding a first half logjam of strong contenders, as has happened in some previous years, once upon a time requiring certain dark arts and a notoriously suspicious Kristian Kostov draw in 2017 for Bulgaria.

Pure conjecture but this could prove beneficial for Croatia given it’s the likely semi one winner and its chances of being given a prime running order slot in the second half of the grand final have probably increased to 19 out of 25 ahead of the draw. Odds will obviously shift depending on what countries draw prior to Baby Lasagna having his turn.

Croatia’s chance of being given a prime running order slot in the second half of the grand final have probably increased to 19 out of 25 pre-draw

The pre-concert circuit had a significant impact on the ESC 2024 Winner market on the Betfair Exchange, and now Eurojury is having its say. As usual, there is a danger of big over-reactions.

Concert appearances act as practice sessions, giving artists the chance to feel more at home performing live. They have about as much bearing on the actual Contest as international football friendlies do ahead of Euro 2024.

Nemo’s live performances certainly charmed the fan community, feeding directly into the Winner market, seeing Switzerland matched at an all-time low of 2.96. What we end up seeing and hearing on the big stage in Malmo will be a whole different ball game and it’s worth remembering a well executed three minute audio-visual package for the purposes of a TV show can and will be transformative for many of this year’s entries.

It often pays to trade the opposite way the market moves, backing the drifters and laying the shorteners because there is every chance you will be availing yourself of some great value, with prices potentially moving in your favour once entries are seen in full for the first time during the semi-finals.

It often pays to trade the opposite way the market moves, backing the drifters and laying the shorteners

The peculiarity of this year’s semis are the startling imbalances between the first half and second half songs, following January’s allocation draw. Semi one this year might even see all seven entries drawn in the first half qualifying. The qualification market on Betfair expects this to happen, with 7 of the 9 shortest-priced nations to qualify being those first seven.

Some may think this is out of the question purely on the basis it has never happened before at Eurovision. But every ESC is different, and a useful maxim to keep in mind with TV betting in general is, there is a first time for everything.

Cyprus always had the look of the most likely opener, with Silia Kapsis expected to bring a slick choreo package for ‘Liar’, and Luxembourg a guaranteed closer in its big comeback year. They’d have to go on the provisional qualifier list ahead of rehearsals. It’s a clear setback to Serbia to be drawn second but it at least has some handy voting allies in this semi.

In the first half of semi one Ireland had been looking most vulnerable to miss out on qualification but has attracted a flood of recent money, backed down to 1.42 to qualify, largely due to an impressive outing by Bambi Thug at the London Eurovision Party.

They appear to be going the full Marilyn Manson with costume choices and visuals, and it will be impactful. Placing the UK immediately after it looks like an intentional attempt at a leg up for Ireland but it is going to need more than the UK’s support if it is to qualify.

Croatia, Ukraine and Lithuania are the qualification locks here but a small question mark hangs over Poland as of now. It has some diaspora friends in this semi but that doesn’t look an automatic path to qualification. The televote-winning potential of Blanka’s uptempo ‘Solo’ as a live entity was instantly recognisable last year. Luna’s ‘The Tower’ looks a more difficult sell and is going to need some clever staging to help elevate it.

Placing the UK immediately after it looks like an intentional attempt at a leg up for Ireland but it is going to need more than the UK’s support if it is to qualify

The main question mark in terms of the second half is, who will join Finland and Luxembourg on the likely qualifier list. There look to be five nations in contention as of now: Slovenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Australia and Portugal, with Iceland probably the only entry you can provisionally write off.

Slovenia was initially well backed for qualification but has since drifted to 1.94. This looks a case of a strong live vocalist trying to elevate a weak song.

Portugal also attracted a lot of money post-semi-final one r.o. reveal, matched as low as 1.33, after procuring the penultimate slot, but that did look an over-reaction and its price has gradually drifted back out over Evens as people have started to realise it still faces a tough challenge to qualify.

While it is bringing a quality sounding ballad, Azerbaijan remains a complete unknown at this stage. Moldova will be relying on some clever visuals of the five female violinists to try and elevate ‘In The Middle’.

There has been a lot of support coming for Australia to qualify, matched as low as 1.75. The short prices are often taken overnight suggesting Aussie punters piling in and having faith in Electric Fields producing the goods live.

The semi one win market has now shifted heavily in favour of Croatia, currently rated a best-priced 4-11. The biggest drawback of this new 100% televote semi-final era from a betting perspective, is that it all becomes a little too obvious.

Ukraine looks like being Croatia’s main challenger, and the only glimmer of value might be found in the Top 3 market, and trying to predict who will and will not take the third podium place.

The short prices are often taken overnight suggesting Aussie punters piling in and having faith in Electric Fields producing the goods live

In semi two, Malta’s death warrant appears to have been officially signed after being handed the opening position. Albania seemed to make a backwards step in deciding to go with the English language version of the song rather than keeping it in Albanian.

Will this hurt its diaspora vote? In theory, it’s a friendly semi for Albania so it can’t be discounted from qualification, especially given it landed 12pts from the ROTW vote last year, but it now has the two slot to contend with.

Greece, Switzerland and Armenia look likely qualifiers, but short-priced layers may have half an eye on Austria here as a potential surprise casualty. Kaleen’s live vocal has been criticised but granted the new backing vocal rules, she should be fine in Malmo.

Czechia is the rank outsider to qualify in semi two but perhaps has a marginally better chance of qualifying than Malta. Middle of the road Denmark is competent enough for what it is, but performed between Austria and Armenia it could risk being memory-holed.

France positioned in the first half appears to have been done for Slimane to break up a run of seven out of eight female-fronted entries, along with one non-binary entry.

It was a somewhat lazy and unimaginative choice to hand Netherlands the semi-final two pimp slot. It certainly didn’t require this automatic televote boost but the EBU/SVT presumably see Joost Klein as a safe pair of hands.

France positioned in the first half appears to have been done for Slimane to break up a run of seven out of eight female-fronted entries, along with one non-binary entry

The mystery here is the treatment of Latvia and Georgia, both loyal ESC nations, both on 6 NQ streaks, and neither given any obvious help. Nutsa impressed people in London which has seen Georgia shorten for qualification, matched as short as 1.41.

Latvia is a classy entry and deserves to qualify but could easily endure the same fate as last year, and finish 11th. Megara’s entry for San Marino, sung in Spanish, has a vaguely helpful lead in following Spain, and this was one that also impressed in London.

The last five entries in this second semi-final all have the look of solid qualifiers in the making and Georgia qualifying could make that six in a row.

Belgium’s Mustii has come in for some savage criticism so far regarding his pre-concert performances. This has seen Belgium move drastically from 16 to 85 in the Winner market which looks excessive given we don’t know anything yet about how it, or any other country for that matter, scrubs up live in Malmo.

The market has settled on ten entries all trading heavily odds-on to qualify in semi two but there does look scope for casualties.

Netherlands, with the built-in advantage of the pimp slot, looks a tough favourite to beat in terms of the semi two win market, and has been backed down to a best-priced 4-9. The other two podium slots look more open and you can make a case for a number of nations prior to rehearsals.

The market has settled on ten entries all trading heavily odds-on to qualify in semi two but there does look scope for casualties

Eurojury results will continue to feed into the markets but rest assured the picture will change drastically in Malmo once we see how all entries are staged and performed live in this year’s semi-finals.

First rehearsals will get underway a week tomorrow on Saturday April 27. We will see a few clips on TikTok but should get a clearer indication following second rehearsals and (hopefully) a round-up on the Eurovision YouTube channel if mirroring last year.

2 Comments

  1. Demi

    I am almost certain that Netherlands closing Semi-2 wasn’t a lazy choice but a very intentional one. Assuming they draw anything but second-half for the Grand Final, I expect them to be crucified by producers (like they did with Malta 2021) to prevent them from getting anywhere near the win.

    • Rob

      Hi Demi. I would agree with your logic that a 1st half r.o. in the grand final could now be on the cards for Netherlands, but I think there were worthier options in the 2nd half of semi 2, and nations more in need of the televote boost, that could have provided an equally entertaining, impactful pimp slot.

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