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Nine Things We Expect From The Netherlands And Eurovision 2021 Written by on May 19, 2020 | 7 Comments

It’s time for our customary look to the future and what to expect from The Netherlands and its hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest next year. This all seems rather familiar to Ewan Spence.

Well, this is a curious year to do our traditional ‘Nine Things…’ post. For a start I can’t draft it on the flight home! We’re not going to cut and paste last year’s ‘Nine Things…‘, (even though most of them are still valid) because Eurovision 2021 is not Eurovision 2020 – a phrase that is going to be needed a lot over the next twelve months.

Looking Forward

One of the benefits of ‘Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light‘ was the closure it offered. The Eurovision Song Contest in 2020 is a landmark year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. How would the narrative end?

Shine A Light‘ brought that ending, drawing a metaphorical production line under the cancellation of the Song Contest. While there will rightly be an acknowledgment of the pandemic at Eurovision 2021, the hosts should then bridge into the Contest and the greatest light entertainment musical show the world has ever seen.

No ‘No Show’ Allowed

Don’t expect the Song Contest to be cancelled next year. While the loss of Eurovision 2020 can be acknowledged this year with the aforementioned ‘Shine A Light‘ and tribute shows from individual broadcasters, to not have a competitive show next year would mean three years between Tel Aviv and wherever a 2022 Contest would take place. That gap would make it harder for the Contest to come back, so there will be a competitive show… in some form.

The EBU’s press release on the 2021 Song Contest quietly confirms this:

In this ever-changing and challenging environment, the EBU will, therefore, work with its Dutch Members and the City of Rotterdam to ensure the continuity of the event in a number of different scenarios.

The format of next year’s Song Contest is going to be dependent on science as much as song.

New Branding

It might be spectacular, it might have won awards, but the data-drive ‘bullseye’ logo for Rotterdam 2020 is… the logo for Rotterdam 2020. The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 is a new show, and must stand on its own. That means, much as we love it, the 2020 branding would be a bigger marketing hindrance compared to the cost saving in recycling the logo. I’d expect it to change, and a new slogan to replace #OpenUp, arriving in due course.

Given the spreadsheet that generated the slices is still around, maybe next year will be lots of coloured squares representing the historical results?


We know a lot more about 2021 than we would normally know in the week before the Contest. We know it’s Rotterdam. We know it’s the Ahoy Theatre, after all the 2020 tickets are going to be valid in 2021. What we don’t know are the dates.

The obvious choice is same again, which means Saturday May 15th for the Grand Final, but there’s a strong argument to go as late as possible to push back the go-no go decision dates. That would mean Saturday May 22nd or even Saturday May 29th.

The Ahoy Theatre

Remember the CGI views of the staging elements for Eurovision 2020? We’re going to see them next year.

First of all, although the fans have seen the representations, they’ve not been seen on television by the public. The reveal of the stage next year will be a new television moment. Given every single publicly sold ticket can be carried forwards to next year’s shows, that means the capacity issues in each area, including the floor zones, has not changed. The design is staying.

Eurovision 2020 staging (NPO/AVROTROS/NOS)

Eurovision 2020 staging (NPO/AVROTROS/NOS)

A Smaller Circus

Outside the venue events, there’s likely to be a scaling back of the ambitions of the Eurovision Village and the use of public spaces. Coronavirus will still be part of the world, even if a vaccine is developed, deployed and proves to be highly effective. The key product of the Eurovision Song Contest is the television show. The external activities are a big bonus for the host city and country, but they are not a critical part of the televised show. While they will not disappear, they are likely to be scaled back for public health reasons.

A Chance For Change

This year saw Jon Ola Sand step down rom his role as Executive Producer for the Eurovision Song Contest, with Sweden’s Martin Österdahl now in the role.

Much like a new political leader can make wholesale changes in the first few months of their new role, Österdahl would have his own ideas to keep the Song Contest relevant in the second decade of the 21st century. With the break in continuity and multiple formats being actively considered to cover all circumstances, Österdahl has the biggest blank sheet of paper to reinvent the Eurovision Song Contest since Marcel Bezençon.

The empty stage after Junior Eurovision 2017 (image: Ewan Spence)

The empty stage after Junior Eurovision 2017 (image: Ewan Spence)

Junior Eurovision Goes Remote

We may see the first radical change at this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Announced during ‘Shine A Light‘, Poland will be doing back-to-back hosting duties.

With the best will in the world, heading into winter with the spectre of coronavirus still hanging over us, the duty of care to the performers will need to be considered. Should they be gathering together in Warsaw?

Or will this be a good time to test the idea of a ‘remote’ Eurovision with the Junior performers staying at home and travelling the much shorter distance to the broadcaster’s own studio for a satellite link-up?

The experience might come in useful for May 2021…

Measuring The Songs

And so to the songs of 2021. I suspect the stronger voices in the community may fracture into two camps. The first camp will be the ‘we must compare this artist’s song to the song they had last year and decide which is better‘. The second will be the camp that makes a specific point to ‘ignore the 2020 songs and try to judge the new entries in isolation.’

The returning artists are going to be under more pressure by virtue of having been carried forwards, the mental highs will be higher and the lows will be lower. To have three months of build up to a non-qualification is hard; now imagine that after more than a year.

Even countries that send a different artist, either through an internal selection or National Final, would have a tough time being compared to 2020’s entry. Imagine being the Icelandic act that has to follow ‘Think About Things‘?

What are you looking forward to for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021? 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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7 responses to “Nine Things We Expect From The Netherlands And Eurovision 2021”

  1. Boog says:

    I think it took a while ( for obvious reasons ) but we have reached pretty well saturation point for the promotion of this year’s cohort . I understand why many fans experience sympathy for current performers who’ve been robbed of an opportunity , but my own view is that, for many , it was , in reality , a bullet dodged . I can’t help but feel that fans will focus on an endless ( and ultimately futile) discussion on Vatican City 20 vs Vatican City 21 which will dilute the freshness and impact of Vatican City 21 .
    For this reason I’m pretty confident that many of the performers who’ve currently agreed to return next year will reconsider once they’ve had a chance to discuss this with management in respect of album releases / tours / recording commitments / professional collaborations / family and community health issues .

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    That is going to be an interesting train of thought to follow. Obviously artists can change right up to the Head o Delegation meeting mid-March. Will having the Eurovision tag over them for 15 months be too much? Ben’s had a look at similar issues here regarding the artists ‘carrying over’ to 2012.

  3. Marc says:

    Good point about no no show. ‘Shine A Light’ must have had as many minutes of remote content than would have been required for a competitive final. An opportunity to crown a 2020 winner was missed.
    Regarding returning artists, don’t forget that this is a way of saving money. A national final with one artist and six or fewer songs will be much cheaper that one with multiple artists and rounds. This is going to be an important consideration for broadcasters in the months to come. Starting from scratch will come at a cost.

  4. I think the artists for whom the Eurovision is the ultimate achievement within their local music industry–paldies Samanta Tina–they are already working on their 2021 entry/ies. For others the Eurovision is a stone in the road: even if they do come back next year their eyes are on a longer journey. Unless he comes up with something equally strong for 2021, Dadi should stay home: whatever you do, don’t come back unless you’re confident that your entry is at least as good.

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    I suspect that any ‘competitive’ element to a replacement show would give the insurers pause for thought on paying out, because Shine A Light would have been closer in format to the cancelled Song Contest.
    As for costs, I think the Latvian broadcaster suggested last month that an internal selection would be cheaper. For the smaller broadcasters under pressure due to the pandemic, this may look *very* attractive in 2021!.

  6. Ewan Spence says:

    I’m tempted to consider Dadi Freyr as a ‘champion’ in which case the rule of thumb of ‘you don’t go back again’, would kick in. After all he’s likely got 95 percent of his goals achieved; breaking out of the Icelandic music scene, boosting the fanbase, and now having a constant stream of Eurovision events where he can be hired to DJ!

  7. FJB says:

    I think in a year’s time we’ll be seeing a lot of comments that X’s 2021 entry is basically the same as their 2020 entry. If artists and song writers remain the same there is very little to stop them basically sending updated versions of their 2020 song but with new lyrics.
    I’m guessing that we’ll see this from Bulgaria.

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