Number Crunching: Measuring Up Eurovision 2019

by Richard West-Soley 3,063 views

Eurovision is a numbers game, and after the event, fans have plenty of them to crunch. We take a look at some of the notable tallies from the 2019 event, from the performance of bookies to the interesting anomalies of the score system.

Scoring the bookies

After predicting eight out of ten qualifiers from the first semifinal, and nine out of ten from the second, bookmakers looked to be on form this year. So how did their final say measure up on the day of the contest?

Well, not badly at all, it turns out, and Saturday was another great night for the odds. As well as predicting the winner, the money correctly placed nine countries in the top ten, with France the only country not managing to make the cut as predicted. In its place, North Macedonia was the single unexpected top ten finisher. This is an improvement on 2018, where only seven of the ten favourites placed as expected.

Exact placement, beyond the winner, was another matter. The aggregated odds almost positioned Switzerland correctly, in third rather than the eventual fourth place. But otherwise, the order was somewhat off, proving that however close bookmakers may get, Eurovision will always throw up surprises. Here are the pre-contest predictions along with the actual result.

Bookmakers Actual
1 The Netherlands The Netherlands
2 Australia Italy
3 Switzerland Russia
4 Sweden Switzerland
5 Norway Iceland
6 Italy Sweden
7 Russia Azerbaijan
8 Norway North Macedonia
9 Azerbaijan Australia
10 France Iceland

Varying fortunes

The law of averages once again played out through the current voting system, creating some interesting anomalies. Like a neat mirror image, neither the song that won or the song that came last did so with either the jury or the telebote. Duncan Laurence managed an impressive third with the juries and an even better second in the televote, which averaged out as an overall win when other countries’ more varying results took them down a notch. It is the emerging hallmark of a voting system where the aim is to balance appeal to experts and the general public – not an easy task, but one that the Netherlands fulfilled this year.

At the other end, the United Kingdom fell foul of the numbers in the final shake-up. “Bigger Than Us” managed to beat Germany in the televote, and both Israel and Spain in the jury scores. However, Israel and Spain (especially the latter, on 14th place) were lifted by the public, and Germany by slightly more jury love. The result was an overall last place for Michael Rice.

Norway did a ‘reverse Austria 2018’ by winning the televote, but being weighted down somewhat by a disappointing jury result. In fact, Keiino becomes the televote winner ranked lowest by the professional juries since the split voting system began. Iceland, too, was only given a helping hand into the top ten by winning sixth place in the televoting, despite a poor showing with the juries.

Interestingly, this is the first year that both the jury and televote winners – Sweden and Norway – fell out of the overall top three with the combined vote.

Semifinal drama

Estonia’s Victor Crone ended up a respectable fourth in the first semifinal, although dropped to nineteenth in the final – with arguably a better performance.

The close call for the tenth-placed countries in both the first and second semifinals was shared widely during Eurovision week. Once the full results became apparent, it transpired that Poland and Lithuania were the near misses this year, by two and one points respectively.

And while North Macedonia enjoyed its best ever semifinal (2nd) and final (8th) placing (if we treat the country as a continuation of FYR Macedonia rather than a debutant), it was disappointment for Armenia and Ireland, which both ended up in their lowest placing in a semifinal to date (16th and 18th respectively).

In another first, the UK becomes the only country to achieve a 26th place more than once in the Eurovision Song Contest final, 16 years after being the debutant nation to do so when the number of finalists hit that number for the first time in 2003.

Language diversity

The 2019 final was just a little less diverse than the previous year in terms of languages. Seven of the finalists performed almost entirely in a national language other than English (France containing just a few lines of English), with Denmark throwing in a smattering of other languages to make eight entries to go against the anglophone grain. The 2018 tally was nine.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 has certainly been a memorable one, with all the twists, turns and surprises that make it such a well-loved event. Have you spotted any curios in the afterglow? Share them in the comments below!