Eurovision’s voting overhaul: what’s new for 2016

scoreboard

Billed by the European Broadcast Union (EBU) as the “biggest change to Eurovision voting since 1975”, this year’s contest will reveal the public televote and jury results separately.

A brief history lesson

Since the contest began, each country has had a jury of “professionals” awarding points for their favourite songs. The number of jurors has varied from two to 20 over the years: most recently five[1], who have voted on each act after dress rehearsals on the afternoon of the

final; their score equally weighted – and revealed in combination with – the public televote.

All change

This year, things get interesting. The two sets of votes are nothing new, and are often not at all aligned.[2] But this year the juries’ role will be made that much more public, with their votes announced separately (and before) the public vote.

The EBU has decided to then combine the result of all the televoting points from every country, to be delivered in a sort of international bundle: a bumper addition to the 0-12 points already awarded by each country’s jury.

Puppets on a string

I think it would be far more interesting to have each country’s public televote shown as individual scores, rather than five jury members’ – I’d rather find out whether the rest of my country, and others, felt the same way (especially if having paid to phone in for a vote). The cultural differences made apparent in the televote[3], and any “political voting”, is a large part of the Contest’s intriguing brand of fun. The EBU will continue to publish the full public televoting breakdown online, so keen beans can prepare for a Sunday afternoon staring a spreadsheet of scores after the final.

In any case, the new system may mean voting will appear to level out a bit. For instance, long before the final votes came in, it was clear that Måns Zelmerlöw was last year’s winner, because he had stormed ahead with so many douze points. Now, whoever’s coming in last will know pretty sharpish: the country receiving the least televoting points will be announced first. And in theory this will drag out the winner’s big reveal until the last few minutes, even if they’ve won by a landslide (only the smartest of mathematicians will be able to do those calculations snappily enough to predict the winner).

So (Hard Rock) Halleljuah for a more exciting final – and for possible public outrage when the combined score across voting countries isn’t exactly… the same.[4] Might the days of nil points become few and far between?

For a more aesthetically-pleasing explanation, click here.

Euphoria, or Only Teardrops?

[1] Usually a mixture of composers, industry pros and vocal coaches, although previous UK juries have included Capital FM’s Pandora Christie and corporate events DJ Candice McKenzie… make of that what you will.

[2] In 2015, the UK public thought Lithuania was top dog, but the jury only ranked it in 14th place – awarding a combined score of just four points.

In 2014, the UK jury were not a fan of the Polish milkmaids – so much so, that despite the thousands of public votes cast that rocketed the Slavic girls to #1, they received sweet nothing from the British Isles. Instead, the UK jury thought the Maltese act was hot stuff; the public put it in fifth place (after the Slavic girls, Conchita, the Netherlands AND Iceland)… but Malta were still awarded 10 points from the UK.

[3] In 2014 it was interesting to see that only Poland, San Marino, Armenia and Belarus awarded not a single point to Conchita Wurst – who received a roaring 13 sets of douze points.

[4] In 2015, Armenia’s musically divisive performance from Genealogy ranked up at number five or higher (out of a possible 26) in the televote from countries including the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, France and Israel (which can avoid being considered “political”), but was placed down in the pits by the majority. Under the new system, might that first set of voters feel somewhat miffed or even enraged at other international voters, when it looks like their favourite act are receiving a low score that seems akin to the overall nil points of yore?