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Nine Things We Expect From The Netherlands And Eurovision 2020 Written by on May 19, 2019 | 8 Comments

As the Eurovision Song Contest family members in Israel say goodbye to each other, plans are being made to meet again next year in The Netherlands following Duncan Laurence’s victory in the Tel Aviv Expo. Ewan Spence takes ESC Insight’s customary look to the future and what we might expect from Eurovision 2020.

When Should I Book Time Off?

Whilst the EBU has not released provisional dates for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, I’m going to gamble and call it for Saturday May 23rd, slightly later in the year. Firstly, it nods towards the scheduling of another major televised event in Europe, the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday May 30th. You also have the announced dates for the Danish National Final on March 7th. Assuming this isn’t clashing with Sweden, that puts Melodifiestivalen’s closer on March 14th, and the Heads of Delegation meeting on March 16th. It’s all running just a bit later.

There’s also a complication in the Netherland’s own social calendar… the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula 1 Grand Prix calendar, The classic Zandvoort circuit will be in use, just a quick tram ride from Amsterdam. The provisional date for that is Sunday May 11th. While you could have the Eurovision rehearsals running that weekend, are you going to run the opening ceremony that day as well?

Location, Location, Location

Even if you avoid the Dutch Grand Prix date wise, Amsterdam cannot avoid the Dutch Grand Prix. Handing the city two major events in close succession doesn’t feel like a smart political decision. If so, expect the bidding for the Song Contest to look for applications outside of the capital. Looking around suitable indoor arenas, with transport links, and sufficient hotel space, Rotterdam 2020 may be a good value bet.

PS… If it is Rotterdam, hosting the Grand Final on Saturday May 16th could come into play – it’s a tricky business second guessing a bidding process which already features six cities and climbing, so don’t make any solid commitments just yet!

More Personality, Less Tourism

Rotterdam (or anywhere) also takes the focus of Amsterdam as a destination. While there isn’t an active campaign of ‘Please Don’t Visit’, for many residents the city is over-run by tourists and popular locations and ‘tourist trap’ shops are being quietly removed. Don’t expect a massive amount of promotion around tourism in 2020’s Song Contest, expect more personal stories to be told and the nation-branding to be subtle and directed into different areas.

Let’s Talk Budgets

The Dutch Public Broadcasting System has a rather unique set-up – in essence there are eight member organisations who get a proportion of airtime depending on the number of members they have, with funding coming from general taxation. AVROTROS – the broadcaster who runs the Eurovision delegation – is one of those members. It has been confirmed that AVROTROS, alongside NPO and NOS, will be organising Eurovision 2020, and the first press conferences on early panning will take place in June. Budget wise I’m expecting Eurovision 2020 to be lower down the scale, nearer the 20-25 million Euro mark, roughly equivalent to Vienna.

No More Big Names Hijacking The Interval

SVT tried it with Justin Timberlake, but we all remember ‘Love Love Peace Peace’ from Stockholm 2016, not ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’. KAN tried it with Madonna this year. According to urban legend, UA:PBC had an offer for a similar ‘stunt’ interval act for 2017.

Portgual showed us the correct way to bring a big music name into the interval act with its pairing of Caetano Veloso alongside Salvador Sobral. There was a level of respect for the Song Contest from Veloso. Those who realised who it was were in awe, others saw a delicate reprise of the winning song from the year before with some new music.

More like that and less like the smothering presence of the Queen of Pop, please.

Cut Eurovision Down To Size

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2018 had twenty songs, and ran for 2 hours 45 minutes. The Adult Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 had twenty-six songs, but inflicted a marathon running time of 4 hours 11 minutes.

Adding six songs and their postcards covers takes 23 minutes, why do we need the other 58 minutes? Yes it’s a chance for a host broadcaster to show off a bit more, but there’s far too much cruft in the show. Less is more, and it will be more memorable.

Vote For Pleasure, Not Cruelty

As ESC Insight’s Ben Robertson says, “I see Eurovision as a competition of love, love, peace, peace, so therefore want the biggest focus to be on the positives.” That was not on show last night.

The new voting announcements ensured that there would be a cliffhanger ending, by reading out the televote results in the ascending order of jury scores. That meant we had moments of emotional pain with those scoring high on the jury and crashing in the televote , notably Germany’s Sisters and Malta’s Michela Pace, and the Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi, having the camera focused on them during the moment of defeat.

I’d much rather have KEiiNO’s televote victory be acknowledged as the last score, rather than the painful sight of Sweden being handed a humbling number of points live on camera.

This needs tweaked to find a way to keep the entertainment and tension but also respect the performers.

What About Eurovision In Concert?

The biggest promotional event on the calendar – the privately organised Eurovision In Concert – is held in Amsterdam every year. Will that still go ahead, take a year off, or be something the broadcaster can leverage? It would be a great time to have the artists film their postcards, but would it weaken or strengthen interest in EiC that ESC would be happening ‘close by’ the next month? All I know is that something is likely to change.

Maybe ‘In Concert’ should move to Italy for the year, given Mahmood finished second?

More Authenticity, More Emotion, More Storytelling

All songs are stories, but Eurovision over the lat few years has turned this into an art form. While the last few winners have not been from the same genre, they all have something in common. They feel real, they feel like they mean something, and the emotions on the show can be felt by the viewers at home (even if it takes two weeks of rehearsing to work out how exactly to do this).

Duncan Laurence brought heartbreak and a vulnerability to the stage. The song wouldn’t be out of place on the playlist of any major radio station. It’s not just a great Eurovision song, it’s a great song.

There are a lot of those out there.

Viewers can tell when there is no connection between the artist, the song, the staging, and the audience. That’s what Eurovision 2020 needs. Broadcasters ready to step away from ‘a Eurovision song’ and just sending us the best songs they can find. Let’s put aside the idea of manufacturing songs and focus on telling stories and creating more magical moments.

What are you looking forward to for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020? What needs changed, what should stay the same, and what would be your wildest expectation? Let us know in the comments.

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 (

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8 responses to “Nine Things We Expect From The Netherlands And Eurovision 2020”

  1. Johan says:

    Agree with most of your comments, esp. the duration of the show. The interval took over an hour! Why such a long voting window? Televoting could be done in 15 minutes, and the calculations with the jury votes etc. another 15-20 minutes.
    There are a few cities already lining up for hosting the event next year, but I’m afraid they have no idea what the technical specifications are for the venue (e.g. minimum height of the ceiling). I’ve always said the Ziggodome in Amsterdam would be the number one candidate, but I also think Rotterdam’s Ahoy complex is a good option – it’s smaller than Ziggodome (approx. 8000 spectators) but it has more separate halls than Ziggodome (if held in the latter, the press centre would have to be housed in a different location, for instance AFAS Live, the current venue for Eurovision in Concert).

  2. Damian says:

    The new voting system was wonderful from a TV point of view! Having the result go down to the very last vote recaptured one of the best aspects of Eurovisions past. And I’m not so worried about the artists who are disappointed – if Betty Missiego, Lena Valaitas, Scott Fitzgerald, Amina, Duo Datz, Sonia and Chiara could all deal with being on the wrong end of a cliffhanger vote then so can today’s performers!

  3. Harriet Krohn says:

    Germany getting 0, the wonderful Czech Republic 7 and poor Malta only 20 points from the audience would have been sorry moments whenever they came along. It’s announcing the jury and public votes separately that creates these “gasp!” seconds, not the order in which they are read out. [Incidentally, if the rumours are true and the “Belarusian jury” vote was turned upside down and North Macedonia would indeed have won the jury vote, the final scores would have held virtually no excitement – I can’t believe that many people would have had the imagination to assume that North Macedonia could have outscored the Netherlands, something that didn’t seem impossible with Sweden. If the scores don’t play along, no system can create credible excitement.]

    I hope to God the final does not take place on the 23rd – that is most likely going to be the date of the local annual “village festival”, which means horrible music blasted at incredibly high volumes until late in the night, drowning out everything else. I might have to find some place else to go then to be able to enjoy Eurovision then, I wouldn’t be able to watch at home …

    ” Let’s put aside the idea of manufacturing songs” – please, please, someone hammer this into the heads of the NDR people who regaled us with “Sister” this year, the most unauthentic entry of all. That we managed to score any jury points at all is a small wonder – the audiences didn’t fall for it, and they were right.

    And yes. No more Timberlakes and Madonnas, please. They steal the attention away from those who should be the real stars, they don’t need this venue. I’d much rather get introduced to local stars or see interesting collaborations – music (or dancing or whatever kind of performance) and people I would not otherwise have known. Far more interesting!

  4. Thomas says:

    For next year my guess would be that AVROTROS-NPO-NOS is going to invite one or more famous Dutch DJs to do the interval act. Armin van Buuren, Martin Garrix and/or Hardwell are the most likely ones.

  5. Roo says:

    Thank you for the considered articles and the podcasts this year – I have enjoyed them.

    I look forward to seeing what the Netherlands produce next year.

    I personally hope they rely on their own expertise rather than relying on a Swedish production team.

    I also really wish for a much shorter contest. Did they interval really need to be 50 minutes long? I thought that the voting window was 15 minutes, an interval act within these 15 minutes, then the phone votes counted while the jury votes were presented. Instead we got 5 former Eurovision contestants sing a song, Netta’s new song, the mentalist, and interview with Madonna and Quavo, and Finally, Madonna’s performance. And a video from Gal Godot. Then the voting window closed! I was astonished. It was like they included every idea they had for an interval act.

    I didn’t mind the new voting announcements – we had a tight result this year anyway it was presented and it felt like Netherlands genuinely was in the lead all along – not like Ukraine jumping ahead at the last minute.

    Many people may not like the juries but when they were introduced many countries were encouraged to send better entries. Watching the 2008 contest who would of thought this decade we would see winners from Austria, Portugal and the Netherlands?

    Looking forward to next years contest.

  6. Mark says:

    I seem to be only one who detests the current vote reveal. It’s not a “cliffhanger” moment to have Sweden in a split screen with The Netherlands, when we already knew that one couldn’t possibly overtake the other. So let’s put aside manufactured tension like that, with hosts patronisingly pretending something impossible might happen. The contest is being reduced to a scripted reality TV show.

  7. Evan Davis says:

    The Invictus Games are also being held in The Hague from May 9-16.

  8. Ewan Spence says:

    Thanks Evan, that’s also good to know – and might be worth a visit as well!

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