On Tuesday the EBU provided the split between the jury and televote average rankings for this year’s contest, with winners Denmark topping both. However, unlike in previous years, these split results don’t actually show us what the scoreboard would have looked like if only juries or televoters had voted and points been awarded accordingly.
To see how widely the conventional points system might differ from the average ranking system, consider a hypothetical country which 20 juries in the final ranked 1st and 19 juries ranked 26th. If the split results showed us what the points situation would have been had only juries voted, as they did in previous years, we’d see this country scoring 240 jury points. Now, all we’d see is an average jury rank of 13.17.
Compare another hypothetical country which finished 13th with every jury. Jury points: 0. Average jury rank: 13. An extreme case, but Armenia’s semi-final performance provides a more practical example of how the average rankings might be misleading.
Armenia had an average jury rank 7.15 (7th best) and average televote rank 9.44 (11th best). But it’s likely that Armenia ranked first or very highly in quite a few televotes, which means they must have ranked very low in quite a few others to reach that 9.44 figure. If the split results had shown us what the points allocation would have been had only juries or televoters voted, it’s very probable that we would have seen Armenia scoring more televote points than jury points.
So one has to be very careful not to read too much into statements like “Armenia did better with the juries”. If the EBU had chosen to release the split figures using the points system instead of the average rankings – as they could easily have done – we might instead be saying “Armenia did better with the televoters”.
Nonetheless, we can tentatively look for lessons in big discrepancies between jury and televote rankings. In the semis, this happened with juries tending to favour middle-of-the-road stuff – Austria (+10), Moldova (+8) and Georgia (+8) – and punish the more leftfield, such as Romania (-12), Bulgaria (-11) and Montenegro (-10). Switzerland’s dated, amateurish schlager was the other act to suffer most (-11).
The smaller the discrepancies in rankings, the more carefully we have to tread. It’s surprising, though, that Iceland did worse with juries than with televoters in the final (-5); Croatia likewise in the semi (-3). Just when is old-fashioned but well-performed significantly better liked by juries – for example, Estonia (+5 in semi, +8 in final) – and when isn’t it? It remains hard to tell.
Sweden’s jury love in the final (+15) suggests that if something sounds vaguely contemporary and radio-friendly, it’s likely to do well with this constituency. Unless it’s sung by a Hungarian hipster (-13). You see – for every case there’s an exception. Perhaps jurors didn’t take to ByeAlex’s quirky vocals, as they didn’t to Can Bonomo’s in 2012.
The bottom line: second-guessing the juries has been a tricky proposition since their reintroduction in 2009, and this year was no exception. We make assumptions about what juries will like; only sometimes are we proved correct.
Otherwise, there were not so many televote suprises. It’s interesting to note that the televote rankings are, in general, still more closely correlated to an act’s final position than the jury rankings are. I had wondered if the new system would do more to negate this. Greece provides a good example with a classic Greek result: 4th in the televote, 14th with juries, 6th overall. I think this is due to televoters being more decisive; juries spread their points around a little more.
Again, we need to be tentative here, and remember we’re comparing apples with oranges – it’s frustrating that the EBU are not prepared to release the points system splits as well as the average rankings, which would give us a fuller understanding of how well each song did with each constituency and what difference the new voting system has made.
Indeed, as we have argued, we think every country’s televote and jury rankings should be in the public domain (as Italy’s televote and Sweden and Denmark’s jury vote already are). With such a cloud of suspicion hanging over this year’s vote, transparency is the best policy.
The EBU have yet to come round to this point of view. Their statement on release of the split rankings says:
To protect the fairness of the voting, the EBU does not release the split ranking of televoting and jury per country. Publishing these numbers would explicitly highlight if countries don’t meet the televoting threshold – the minimum number of televotes needed to become a statistically valid result – is and where thus only the jury voting was regarded valid. Explicitly highlighting these countries could lead to unwanted disproportionate influence on the televoting in these countries in future years to come.
If this is the EBU’s only reason, then it has a significant flaw – from the average rankings they have published, it’s possible to reverse-engineer how many countries didn’t make the threshhold. Thanks to some sterling mathematical work from escxtra’s Ervin, it’s apparent that one country in the first semi-final used jury-only scores and two countries voting in the second semi-final did so.
We don’t know which countries these were, but I’d put good money on Ervin’s guesses of San Marino and Albania being correct. Given Albania’s six points to Spain in the final, which doomed Ryan Dolan to last place, I’d bet this was a jury-only result too.
What do you feel about how the new system of allocating points has worked and been represented? What are your views on the split results? Let us know below.