BGT 2016: Final Preview

It usually feels harder to guess pre-show who producers will want to win a BGT final than an X Factor final. One reason for that is simply that BGT is so much shorter: just one audition and one live show before the final. On the X Factor, if producers are going to give up on an initially favoured act or promote one in whom they’d previously shown little interest, that normally happens by around week 2 or 3. With BGT, it has to happen between the semi and final: being pimped in the former is no guarantee you won’t be under a bus in the latter.

Another reason is that commercial prospects are (a) harder to figure out, because you’re comparing different kinds of act, and (b) seemingly less important. Sure, XF also has to embrace a feelgood winner at times when the commercial act fails to fire, and mix up the winning categories a bit. But while XF tends to feel more driven by “who’ll make us most money?”, with BGT there’s more of a sense of “how about the dog?”

So, as with the semis, it’s hard to be too confident of what producers are intending until we see the running order and treatment of the acts. Even then, there’s room for doubt – an act can be given a late slot and kind treatment not because producers want them to win but because they know know they’re no threat, something which becomes clear to punters only when the semi voting percentages are released after the final.

With all that said, what should we make of this week’s semi-finals?

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BGT 2016: Running Order in the Semi-Finals

Britain’s Got Talent starts its week of live semi-finals on Sunday, and it’s a brave punter who’d bet on them before seeing the running order. We now have four years of data with nine-act semi-finals (i.e. 20 data points for each running order position). Here’s the average percentage of the vote achieved from each slot:average-vote-running-order-BGT-2012-2015 Continue reading BGT 2016: Running Order in the Semi-Finals

Eurovision 2016: The Post-Mortem

Eurovision rarely fails to surprise and provoke, and that’s certainly proved the case this year. There’s been a constructive discussion in our comments section about the political aspects of Jamala’s participation and ultimate victory. From a betting perspective, this year was considered tricky and unusual: each of the frontrunners had flaws, and it was considered an open contest. That came to pass, with a very tight finish among the top three.

The change in the allocation of points and their reveal seemed to heighten the unpredictability of the event. I’ve written a longer-form piece for ESCInsight (I’ll tweet the link when it’s published), in which I’ve talked about the new challenges that this, and other aspects of the modern contest bring the gambling fraternity. But amidst the greater sense of uncertainty, it’s worth reminding ourselves that there are plenty of continuities too.

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Eurovision 2016: The grand final

And then there were five. The market has decided all but a handful of acts are rank outsiders. Behind the top tier of Russia, Australia, Ukraine, France and Sweden there’s a gap to Malta, which is the falsest position of all in the outright. I don’t think France is going to win, but I wouldn’t discount any of the other four from taking the trophy – each has plenty going for them.

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Eurovision 2016: The second semi-final

According to the betting market, there’s a clear-cut nine qualifiers in this semi-final. It’s headed by Ukraine, after an impressive set of rehearsals catapulted Jamala to second place in the outright market. Australia’s Dami Im raised her game for the jury rehearsal last night, and the two rightly dominate the win market for this heat.

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Eurovision 2016: The first semi-final

Eurovision has more twists than a soap opera. Yesterday I had a deadline to write an article elsewhere, and tipped The Netherlands for a top three position in this semi-final at a value price, before Douwe Bob’s silent ten seconds fell rather flat in the jury rehearsal. It’s not a positive development, though I don’t believe it will affect qualification.

Russia are hot favourites to win the semi-final, with Armenia clear second favourites. Both offer striking visual and vocal packages, and will be in the final. It’s a very friendly semi for Russia, the routine is peaking at the right time, and I envisage Sergey following up Polina’s semi-final victory last year.

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Eurovision 2016: May 8 rehearsals

Just the second rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers today, so a much shorter article than usual. Indeed, one main point of interest – the draw to see if the Big 5 will get a first or second half draw – now takes place at the welcome ceremony this evening.

We know what we’re going to get from Sweden’s Frans – something very close to the Melodifestivalen final performance, with a catwalk finale. The teenager was reportedly unimpressive in rehearsals throughout the Swedish competition, and came into his own with a live audience. But it felt like there was nothing wrong with his run-throughs today.

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Eurovision 2016: May 7 rehearsals

Germany started proceedings with a facsimile of the national final performance, which is to say they’ve turned a haunting song into the visual equivalent of watching paint dry. The U.K. have come up with a more engaging stage of blue and purple lights, featured both in the backdrop and the plinths with the two drummers. Joe and Jake work the cameras, interact well with each other, and sound good. As is usually the case, the BBC also throw some pyros at the finale.

Italy’s staging rather divided opinion. The positive spin was that the collection of flowers, balloons and rubber ducks was lovely. Francesca is standing on a narrow raised platform that looks like an island on a watery LED floor. There are animated white etchings that appear on the screen, as she sings beautifully and emotively. The less charitable felt that the staging cheapened a very classy song. I was somewhere in the middle, finding the overall effect cute. The visual concept was at least coherent, and carried out with conviction.

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