Eurovision Top Tip No.7: The public vote still matters most

[Part of Daniel Gould‘s ten-part series of tips on Eurovision betting].

‘And Cyprus awards 12 points to….Greece!’ Friendly televoting from neighbours and diaspora became a running joke in Eurovision, mocked by BBC commentator Terry Wogan. So much so, that the 100% televoting system was ditched last year for the final.

Now there is a 50/50 system whereby equal weighting is supposedly given to the televoting public and a national jury of five music ‘professionals’ chosen by the broadcaster. Does this mean points calculations based on friendly voting patterns can also be ditched? Not so fast.

More subtle advantages for the phone vote result remain. Firstly, the scores from the public and the jury are added up, and if there is a tie, the public preference is put ahead. So a televote 12 points and jury 4 points beats a televote 8 points and jury 8 points.

This example, with the televote first and jury seventh beating the televote third and jury third, shows another advantage for countries who benefit from friendly voting.

The 12,10,8,7,6,5…1 scoring system gives the first and second places an extra point ahead of the next-placed countries. Therefore, countries like Turkey and Armenia, guaranteed plenty of public 12s and 10s, still benefit disproportionately over countries below them in the televote.

Next, the juries may be as favourable to neighbours as televoters, for cultural or other reasons. The Cypriot jury awarded 12 points to Greece in 2009 just as its televoters did. Balkan juries showed a strong preference for the best Balkan entry, Bosnia.

This helps to explain why in the 2009 final, the televote winner in each nation, even when the jury votes were taken into account, scored at least 10 points from that country over 80% of the time under the 50/50 system. For the televote runner-up, that figure is still over 50%.

All this means that whilst the impact of the jury has to be considered, it may make less difference than you think. The advantage given to those countries with plenty of friends, whilst lessened to a small extent, is still significant.

[Update, 24/2/11 – see a new post on What Do The National Juries Vote For, taking account of data from 2010’s contest].

Classic Examples

For those wondering about the impact of the 50/50 system of qualification from the semis (last year the new scoring method was only used for the final), it’s worth remembering that in 2009, only Russia among the Top 10 based on televotes alone, dropped out of it due to the addition of jury scores.

In some cases there was a strong correlation between high jury votes and televote scores in 2009. The Bosnian and Greek entries got their highest jury scores from certain countries that traditionally award them significant televote points also. In these cases, the juries were reinforcing advantages gained from televoting.

General Eurovision Advice

DO take into account that certain countries still have natural advantages from diaspora and neighbourly voting. These include Turkey, Armenia, Russia, and Greece, plus to a lesser extent, Serbia, Bosnia and Azerbaijan.

DON’T forget that the 50/50 jury/televote system now operates in both the semis and final

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