There are many reasons why Eurovision offers betting opportunities. Here is one: many other punters can’t help but back the songs or countries they like. They are betting emotionally rather than rationally.
On a betting exchange such as Betfair, in which you are pitting your wits directly against other punters, that means you can be on the receiving end of their sentimental ideas. Literally.
It’s hard not to fall into the trap oneself: you listen to the songs; you like one or two the most; and you hope for their success. But serious punters are only considering what they think will win.
This is not to say you should ignore your judgement of the song. You just need to consider whether thousands of voters are going to agree with you, pick up their phones, and vote for it on that Saturday evening.
One important thing to consider in this respect: musical taste in different parts of Europe can be very different. What you enjoy may not be appreciated elsewhere. You require a song that will appeal across the Continent.
So be very careful when you are backing a song that you like a lot. Ask yourself, who else will agree with me? Maybe tens of thousands. Then again, maybe not. Listen to your head.
Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’ in 2009 was an obvious winner from the start. I liked the song; I knew it had that universal appeal; it won. The flip side of the coin was the Bosnian song that year, ‘Bistra Voda’. I liked the song; this helped me believe it had universal appeal; it bombed outside the Balkans.
It may be easier to make the most of others who are betting with their heart. Maybe a singer is highly popular in their country and won’t be elsewhere.
A second important thing to consider: the tastes of the Eurovision fans who create the pre-contest hype may be very different from the tastes of the broader audience on the Saturday night. This is where you step in.
2002 was a very open year in which the market was headed by songs liked by Eurovision enthusiasts – Germany’s ‘I Can’t Live Without Music’ and Spain’s ‘Europe’s Living A Celebration’. Old-fashioned even by the standards of the contest, neither appealed to casual viewers and both flopped.
I’ve forced myself to back two recent winners that I did not want to win but saw the logic of their success in an era of 100% televoting where the impact of neighbourly voting was at its greatest: Dima Bilan for Russia in 2008 and Marija Serifovic for Serbia in 2007.
DO be careful when backing songs that are your own favourites
DON’T back them unless you feel other voters across Europe will agree with you