The voting system has been changed for this year’s contest. A separate 1-12 jury score will be given first by national spokespersons. After that, each countries’ accumulative televote score will be announced, in ascending order. That will make for a nail-biting final few minutes, as the highest televote points totals are added to the scoreboard. It’s much like the current Melodifestivalen system. There’s a handy video explaining it here.
Before today’s announcement, I commented in a tweet that the 2016 rules had been published last autumn, and were available on the official website – presumably the re-write is in progress. That pedantry apart, there’s much to be positive about in this morning’s announcement. And ultimately, those hoping to make money betting on the event must always adapt to new rules. Here’s my take on what it means for those gambling on the event.
Hello back, 2010-12 system. And the diaspora!
The first-to-last rankings no longer matter in either the semi or the final. Being in the top ten of the jury or televote is all that counts. This means that a jury can’t negate a strong televote by placing an act last. For example, in 2014 Poland’s ‘My Slowanie’ won the UK televote, was placed last in the jury vote, and got 0 points from the UK. Under this system it would get the televote 12 points, 0 points from the jury, an overall total of 12 from the 24 on offer.
That’s a bonus for the countries that benefit from diaspora (Poland among them). Vice versa, it’s also a bonus for any songs that the juries rate highly but gets little traction in the televote. Last year’s nul pointer, Austria, would’ve managed 40 points from juries under the new system. (Being a nul pointer is about to become very difficult.) No need to be quite so wary of any likely huge disparity in an act’s televote / jury vote when looking at the top ten market.
Betting during the results
Playing the market whilst the points are being allocated has become more of an opportunity. This is largely because an algorithm created a voting order designed to initially mask the expected winner. The 2015 voting order, published on the afternoon of the final, saw many of Russia’s natural allies give their points early, and many of Sweden’s towards the end. Thus Russia headed the field initially, until the UK’s 12 points to Sweden saw the latter take a lead that was never relinquished.
It will play out slightly differently now. I’m hoping and assuming that the algorithm remains, so that during the jury scores there’s some change at the top of the scoreboard. Most importantly, the change in sequencing means being aware that a strong televote total will boost a country languishing in the jury scores, and vice versa.
It also means a nerve-wracking final few minutes. As the largest televote scores are revealed, all hell will break loose on the scoreboard and in the betting markets. Apart from the increased risk of a heart attack, I’m sanguine enough about the new system, and the opportunities it brings.
Since our last article, a few more national finals have taken place. Perhaps the betting markets shouldn’t have been so surprised that Lighthouse X’s middle-of-the-road, midtempo ‘Soldiers of Love’ won the Danish final. The song is the kind of typically inoffensive pop tune the nation has sent of late, and won’t necessarily be a barrier to qualification. Up until Denmark’s failure in a very eastern-leaning heat last year, their record of getting to the final has been excellent.
Come May I will be watching out for the vocals, which get extra support in the Danish final both on the backing track and in a form of melodic tuning on the live mic. Still, there’s room for three backing singers to help the boys out. Vocals are the big issue for Switzerland’s representative Rykka with ‘The Last of Our Kind’. Did the voting public watch the final on mute? She’ll have to sound a whole lot better in Stockholm to get anywhere near qualification.
I’m waiting for official confirmation that the Italian act Francesca Michielin will sing her Sanremo number ‘Nessun Grado di Separazione‘. Meanwhile, we know that Georgia’s composition is ‘Midnight Gold’. Whilst I’m all in favour of diversity on the Eurovision stage, this kind of unmelodic, guitar-driven number has always tended to score badly. The likes of Manga, Eldrine and Deli all rocked into the top ten with much stronger melodies.
Friday sees Bosnia reveal its Eurovision song. This weekend has two intriguing national finals. In Ukraine on Sunday, SunSay try to upset market favourite Jamala; whilst in Iceland on Saturday, Alda Dis Arnardottir will attempt to do the same against Greta Salome. On Monday, Minus One from Cyprus will debut their song. Let us know what you think of the song selections and rule changes below.