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Thoughts And Reflections From ESC Insight’s Reader Survey Written by on August 29, 2016 | 5 Comments

As the new Eurovision season approaches and we all look forward once more to whittling over 10,000 songs down to the one winner in May, ESC Insight is going to get introspective for a moment. Over the summer we’ve been running a survey on what you think of ESC Insight. We’ve learnt a lot, and while the results will not bind us, it will guide our editorial decisions during this Eurovision Year. This is what we found out.

Demographics

ESC Insight is not a daily news site, and has never tried to be that. It has grown organically out of the  podcast, with a direction and focus that is more like a weekly arts or politics magazine (such as the Spectator, Newsweek, or The Stage). The weekly cycle of news, articles, updates, features, and audio is at the heart of our regular schedule and the slower tempo.

So it’s great to see that during the season, 91 percent of ESC Insight readers visit the site at least once per week, and 69 percent read the regular ESC Insight newsletter.

Written Content

Unsurprisingly, our long-form content was well-received in the survey. There was a touch more love towards our academically focused articles (with examinations of voting patterns and explaining the modern-day Eurovision Song Contest coming top). It’s rare that we cover news in a straightforward way, there will always be an opinion or editorial angle to articles on ESC Insight once we’ve stated the facts. If you’re looking for ‘just the news’ there are better options online – we’re not here for the ‘what’, we’re here for the ‘why’!

ESC Insight went through a website redesign last year (you can read more about it here). One of the goals of that was to give a bigger platform to each author on the site, and to make each article ‘by a person’ and not ‘by ESC Insight’. With more comments in the survey addressing individual writers we’re taking that as ‘mission accomplished’.

The ESC 2016 Press Bunker. Photo: Kylie Wilson

The ESC 2016 Press Bunker. Photo: Kylie Wilson

Many of you wanted more content on ESC Insight, and we’re glad you want this. We’d love to have more as well, but outside of the week of the Contest (where our team is on the ground and one hundred percent focused on the Contest) we all have jobs and life to attend to.

Podcast Content

The ESC Insight podcast follows the worldwide trend of listeners favouring podcast players on a website or streaming directly, as opposed to subscribing to the RSS feed or through podcast services such as iTunes or Overcast. Six in ten of you listen to the podcast by visiting ESC Insight directly.

Juke Box Jury remains the most popular strand of the podcast. Following last year’s survey the consensus was Juke Box Jury should finish before we travel to the Host City for rehearsals – which we did this year so thank you for all your positive comments on that change.

After Juke Box Jury, the daily reports from the venue were next in the ‘most liked’ table, followed by the regular news podcasts.

Other podcast strands (such as the Alternative Commentaries and In-Depth Interviews) were more controversial with around ten percent of listeners disliking these shows. That is balanced out by the fans of these strands, so we’ll continue to take the view that a strong positive reaction to a section of ESC Insight content is desirable. You don’t need to like everything, but everything should be liked by someone!

Ewan and Terry, Junior Eurovision 2014 FM Radio Broadcast

The Junior Eurovision 2014 FM Radio Broadcast Team

Both Juke Box Jury and the daily shows from backstage have benefitted from a wider pool of guests this year, but the nature and timing of these shows means that the pool is not as wide as you would expect, especially for Juke Box Jury (as we prefer to record this with everyone in the same room – there’s more energy and life in the recording). It’s a constant fight to get good and knowledgeable voices, and we’re working hard to maintain this.

And while many of you love the commentariesthe request to make these ‘more live’ is welcome but obviously runs into licensing issues from the EBU and the cost of facilities that would be required from the host broadcasters to make it happen.

Video And Radio Content

Multimedia content takes a lot of time, so the requests for ESC Insight to do more video content need to be addressed. The short answer is we’ve tried in the past, we’ve looked at what we can deliver, and we’re not satisfied that adding video would be a benefit to the site.

Frankly, video is an area that is over-served by the other Eurovision websites. The three-minute video interview format can be found on many other sites, and to put more of ESC Insight’s focus towards video just to do ‘the same as every other site’ feels a bit of a wasted effort.

Most important from a management point of view, it would take resources away from the unique areas of the site, including written content, the podcasts, and of course the Radio shows that we syndicate to FM, AM, DAB, and internet stations around the world (which rarely show up on this website – check your local listings for details). That loss of resources would be keenly felt in the press room during the run-up to the Contest.

Video is something that we continue to discuss, but as it stands don’t expect too much from ESC Insight on the visual front.

Ewan interviewing the BBC's Paul Condon for the podcast.

Ewan interviewing the BBC’s Paul Condon for the podcast.

Junior Coverage

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest does not have as wide a fan-base as the adult Contest so for many Insight readers, our coverage of JESC passes them by (just over half of respondents were ‘neutral or do not like’ Junior Eurovision. For the JESC fans though, there’s a demand for more articles and audio coverage of the Contest. Just like the EBU, we’ll be using the 2016 Content in Malta to try out some new content ideas as well as polish the favourites such as Junior Juke Box Jury.

What Is ESC Insight To You

And then we come to the big question of the survey, where we asked you to describe ESC Insight. Our answer is on the About page, specifically “ESC Insight brings you in-depth editorial, discussion and commentary around the Eurovision Song Contest,” but what do our readers think?

A number of words and phrases kept cropping up, such as “informed”, “educational”, “entertaining”, “enjoyable”, and “quality” – all of which we are very pleased to see. There’s only one comment that I’m going to edit it slightly for everyone to read. It might not be our mission statement, but it does encapsulate what we will be striving for as we start the long road to the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

ESC Insight will not always be the first, but it will always be the most considered and comprehensive.

Talk To Us Throughout The Year

Although the survey is over, that shouldn’t stop any of you reaching out to the ESC Insight team during the year – contract details for all the writers are available on their bio pages, and you can always send an email to ewan@escinsight.com or sharleen@escinsight.com for any reason!

 

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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5 responses to “Thoughts And Reflections From ESC Insight’s Reader Survey”

  1. Nice summary of the results and comments you got there – I don’t think there is much to change or improve.

    Did the personal pieces from Jon and Ellie come under the ‘other podcast strands section’? I loved them but I remember some readers really having a problem with those articles. Your response of “you don’t need to like everything, but everything should be liked by someone!” fits those perfectly.

    As a matter of interest, how do you draw on the pool of contributors for Jury and other recorded podcasts? I assume the press corp supply those during Eurovision fortnight – do you grab your friends at events during the rest of the year?

    Keep up the good work – I assume that JESC is the next major Eurovision event, forgive me if I don’t take much notice of your output from Valletta, being one of the 50%… 😉

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    Oh there is always room for improvement (in my opinion). Naturally our data includes the comments targeted to writers, but there’s a reason we’ve not published those. As yous ay it’s about creating delight for as many people as possible (and making it easy to skip, such as JESC).

    Juke Box Jury pool is a tricky one. The basic requirement is generally ‘physically close to me’ (either in Edinburgh or while travelling), has contributed to Insight (or has good music/pop culture background), and is likely to work well with the other guest. It’s a lot more art than science. During ESC fortnight it’s a case of who is around.

    The only thing I would note is that we try to get a good gender balance as much as possible in the guest line-up.

  3. Thanks for the reply – you do seem to get it right most of the time in JBJ with your guests. I suspect it’s similar to getting the right people on a tv or radio chat show/quiz show – knowledge and humour the prime requisites!

    I’ll definitely have to haul my backside to an actual Contest – apart from going to a NF abroad, I think that I’ve now covered most things over the last few years!

    Just realised, it’s now officially the 2017 season! 🙂

  4. markovsg says:

    All good but I still am cheesed off that Ultimate Juke Box Jury was not finished and seems long forgotten
    Shame on you! lol

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    Not long forgotten, but it would require a full reboot now (IMO) to do it justice. It may come back, it may be a terrible cliffhanger like ‘The Colbys’, time will tell.

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