For the last two years, Eurovision punters have had to contend with the return of the national juries in a 50/50 voting system with the public televote. As I wrote in my recent post analysing what kind of songs the juries go for, we know a lot more about the effects of the return of juries after the 2010 contest than we did before (although the database is still obviously a small one).
Before last year’s contest, I wrote about why I thought the public vote still mattered most. The result in 2010 gave us more evidence that this is, indeed, the case.
To briefly repeat the interesting biases within the 50/50 system that I called attention to in last year’s article: firstly, the scores from the public and the jury are added up, and if there is a tie, the public preference is put ahead. Secondly, the 12,10,8,7,6,5 gives an extra head-start to those countries guaranteed plenty of public 12s and 10s such as Turkey and Armenia. Thirdly, juries sometimes reinforce the social or cultural bias shown by televoters.
The results from the last two years add to my sense that the televote still has a greater say in determining a country’s final position than the jury vote. Georgia for example, came ninth in the televote in 2010, but fourth place in the jury vote did not lift it to finish any higher than ninth overall. The same thing happened with Russia: 11th in the televote, only 15th in the jury vote, but still 11th overall.
If we look at countries with a big disparity between a good televote score and a poor jury vote one, they were also more likely to finish closer to their televote position. In 2010, France came eighth in the televote, 22nd in the jury vote, for an overall 12th place. Serbia tenth in the televote, 21st in the jury vote, 13th overall.
The exception to this pattern of countries finishing closer to their televote placing in the overall standings seems to be an outstandingly good jury performance. In 2010, Belgium’s second with that constituency meant a sixth overall despite being only 14th in the televote. In 2009, a very strong jury vote for Iceland (placed second), the UK (third) and France (fourth), helped lift those countries easily above their lower televote placings.
Looking at the figures, one of the reasons is an interesting one I haven’t touched upon before in my previous article on this topic: the juries are proving less decisive than the televote, or in other words they are spreading their votes around more widely. Countries are more closely matched in the jury vote than in the televote.
Let’s look first at the middle of the table: last year, 126 points separated 8th and 18th positions in the televote, just 62 points was the difference with the juries. (The 2009 scoreboard showed something similar, if less pronounced – a difference of 73 points in the televote, 48 with the juries).
Interestingly, the overall winners from 2009 and 2010, Norway and Germany, both won the televote far more convincingly than the jury vote, despite neither being countries that can rely on a plethora of televoting allies. This was especially the case with Lena. She had a 70-point margin of victory in the televote, and won the jury vote by just two points.
So, for these various reasons, the juries are not having as big an impact as you might expect from what is termed a 50/50 system. Looking at the results over the last two years, you could be forgiven for thinking the televote had more weight.
It is interesting to speculate that in what looks an open race in 2011, this could particularly be the case. At this early stage, there is no standout entry that would appear likely to run away with it (though come rehearsals, I reserve the right to see if anything emerges from the pack).
Therefore, the jury voting could conceivably be even tighter than before, and neutral televoters may also spread their votes more widely. If this is the case, the destination of a friendly televote 12 or 10 is granted more importance.
In my last Top Tip Update, I wrote that punters should be aware of any changes in the line-up of nations competing compared to recent years and how this may impact upon the levels of support for various countries. Four countries are returning this year, all with their own televoting biases, and this could well play an important part in the contest – if not in deciding the winner, then potentially in the Top 4 or Top 10 market, or with regards to qualification.
I’ll be analysing the possible effects of these four countries in my next Top Tip Update.