In the of mega-era of the Eurovision Song Contest—where often 40 or more songs are in the competition—the results section of the Grand Final had become stale. The traditional douze points reporting mechanism (each spokesperson reporting results) meant that the winner was often called well before the last delegation had made it on air. It did not make for an exciting conclusion: arguably after three hours, it was often something of a let-down.
Beginning in 2016, the Reference Group implemented a new way of revealing the results and this will be in place again for 2018. Each spokesperson will report the top marks from their country’s jury. Then the hosts will efficiently report the pan-Contest televotes awarded to each Grand Final entry, from 26th to 11th places. The suspense will continue to build as the hosts reveal the televotes in descending order, until we learn who has won. The switch to the current method has been well-received. It lends an element of excitement — even when one entry wins with a comfortable margin, as in 2017.
However, the data generated can also offer us early indications as to where the overall result is heading. In part one of this series we looked at the first momentum rule of the Eurovision related to what is needed to propel a qualifier to a strong Grand Final result. For part two we ask: how much momentum do you need from the jury scores to be confident of overall victory?
We have limited ourselves to years where there were two semi-finals and from which we have official jury and televote split data available. This gives us seven years of usable data: the EBU did not release the actual jury vs televote voting scores for the 2013 Contest; instead they offered almost entirely useless “average ranking” data instead. That still left us eight years of data to analyse, all the other years between 2009 and 2017.
Since there were several different ways to calculate scores across these years, we needed a way to compare like data for like data. The easiest way to do this was to convert the 2009-2015 scores to the current aggregate scoring system: jury score plus televote score, with the highest total score winning. We then looked at the overall top five result for each year. There were no years in which scores were so tightly distributed that any entry ranked lower than fifth could have leapt to victory. Interestingly, all of these years’ winners would still have won, but other entries’ rankings would have changed on occasion.
Broadly speaking, we identified three key scenarios: unambiguous, flat and it’s complicated.
Once the scores are converted to the current system, we have had overwhelming winners in a few years. These are years where one entry topped both the jury and televote score components.
In 2009 Norway’s Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’ was fifty-two points ahead of Yohanna’s Icelandic entry ‘Is It True?’ after the jury votes. However, Norway’s televote score was 205 points greater than Iceland’s. Had the current results reporting protocol been used, we would have been in for an exciting night — until we found out Iceland was only fourth with the public!
|2009||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
2009 Eurovision top scores converted to current aggregate system
The following year we had another unambiguous winner: Germany’s Lena and ‘Satellite’. Lena’s lead was consistent across the jury and public vote components, sixty-odd points in each. The jury score rankings were only slightly different. Turkey’s MaNga was fourth with jurors, but ‘We Can Be the Same’ was second with the public and would have ended up third overall, behind Romania.
|2010||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
2010 Eurovision top scores converted to current aggregate system
In 2010 we would have had a more exciting finish until the penultimate public vote —Turkey — was announced. Same result; better ending.
In some years no entry inspires a massive level of support from either scoring constituency. They might lead either or both components, but the numbers they rack up are not what we saw above.
Eurovision 2011 is a good example of this. The juries and the public ranked the entries in significantly different ways: the juries rewarded Italy a 69 point lead over Azerbaijan, but the public televote only allocated Raphael Gualazzi’s ‘Madness of Love’ 99 points. Gualazzi’s public vote gave him 11th place and this would have made it obvious that they were out of contention very early in the results announcements.
In fact, the only song in the top five of both components was the Azeri entry. By the time only Sweden and Azerbaijan would have been left (as the top two in the televote), Azerbaijan would have been the obvious winner, even if the Azeri televote was only two points greater than Sweden’s.
|2011||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
In 2012 Loreen’s victory seemed massive — but it was in jury support where ‘Euphoria’ dominated. Sweden’s jury lead was 123 points over its nearest rival, Serbia, and 202 points above eventual runner-up Russia. In fact, Russia 2012’s score was almost the reverse of Italy 2011’s: a small (94 point) jury score and a massive (332 point) televote one.
|2012||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
2012 Eurovision top scores converted to current aggregate system
Russia’s ‘Party for Everybody’ was only 11 points behind ‘Euphoria’ with the public. Had 2012 been a televote only year, we would have had a very exciting finish! So Loreen’s 200+ point lead was key.
Conversely, 2015 Vienna Grand Final seemed to be a rollercoaster until around halfway through the results when Sweden inched ahead of Russia. In the end Sweden won comfortably: the two scoring components, however, showed that the juries and public did not agree on which was the best entry.
Måns Zemerlow’s ‘Heroes’ was the clear jury favourite (by 119 points), but only third with the public. The public much preferred Italy’s Il Volo and ‘Grande Amore’. Sweden were actually 80 points behind Italy — but the juries only had Italy in 6th place, 180 points back. Meanwhile, Russia’s Polina Gagarina and ‘A Million Voices’ was in second place with the public with a seven point televote lead over Sweden, but Gagarina was third with juries. Under the aggregate system, Sweden still finishes ahead of Russia, but by 112 points.
|2015||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
2015 Eurovision top scores converted to current aggregate system
The following year we used the new aggregate system for the first time. Rather than integrating the public and jury components into one score, both were exactly equal in value. And yet the 2016 result was also rather complex.
Once the jury scores were in, Australia’s Dami Im held a 109 point over second-ranked Jamala from Ukraine. The favourite in the betting markets, Sergey Lazarev from Russia, was only fifth with juries and 190 points behind Australia. Lazarev’s deficit seemed too huge to overcome and Australia looked set to win. And then the televotes were reported.
|2016||Jury score||Jury lead||Televote score||Televote lead||Total||Net Difference|
2015 Eurovision top scores
Australia were announced as only the fourth highest ranked entry with the public. Poland were next and while Michał Szpac had only been second last with juries, he was third with the public. Ukraine came in second with a massive 323 televote points. Lazarev’s televote score of 361 points was not enough to overtake Jamala. The key to Ukraine’s victory was that ‘1944’ consistently scored high with both the public and juries. This gave Jamala a 23 point victory over Australia.
Each of these scenarios offer us something to keep an eye on when the jury scores are reported on Saturday.
First, getting any score component over 300 points bodes well for your prospects. Getting above 300 points is a massive achievement in either scoring component of a Eurovision Grand Final and only a small handful of entries have ever managed this. However, we should remember that 300+ points do not automatically mean victory. In 2015 Sweden did broke that barrier with jurors and won. Portugal 2017 and Norway 2009 did it with both the juries and the public, and won. But Bulgaria managed 300+ points in the televote last year, and they finished second. Ukraine won in 2016 despite Lazarev’s 300+ public score being higher than Jamala’s.
Second, a massive jury lead of 200 points or more might just be impossible to overcome. Let us do some simple numbers to find out why. Divide that 300 point mega-score threshold in half, and you get 150. As long as any country’s televote score is in the top ten, we suspect that any entry with a 150-point jury lead on Saturday night can probably breath easily. Italy’s 11th place in the 2011 televote informs our analysis here.
Third, a large jury vote lead of around 110 points might be promising, but it does not guarantee victory. Ask Dami Im of Australia 2016. This point comes with a corollary: if your nearest rival is one of the last three countries to be called in the televote, brace yourself for potential disappointment. Again, ask Dami.
Enjoy the Grand Final—and have your serviette handy for a quick calculation after the jury scores are tallied.