Eurovision 2014: Who will be the market springers?

This article is not looking to predict positive surprises on the scoreboard come May 10, but rather positive surprises in the betting market by the day of the final. Which acts are longer odds now than they will be in a month?

This is a vital consideration for those looking to play the market as a trader. Traders back at longer odds and lay at shorter odds in the hope of guaranteeing a profit either way, or at least giving themselves a free run.

The market can move in mysterious ways, but there are perennial factors that influence it in the contest build-up. I consider some of them below as a way of speculating on the likeliest market springers.

1. Eurovision in Concert and other promotional events
The market reacted strongly to last weekend’s Amsterdam event, with hot favourite Armenia on the drift and the hero’s welcome granted to Conchita Wurst seeing Austria come down to tenth place in the win market.

It may be a case of history repeating itself when the same two artists appear on stage this Sunday at the London equivalent. One can only assume they will give facsimile performances with a largely facsimile reaction by punters.

2. Fan Polls
The OGAE are Eurovision fan organisations in each country. Their individual polls will drip through in the coming weeks. We know only a few so far, with Sweden early leaders. There is always a remarkable correlation between their votes, and it seems likely that ‘Undo’ will continue to head the pack.

Online polls that punters take note of come from escnation and escstats (see the pre-chart’14 tab). The latter has Sweden leading from Hungary and the UK, the former has the UK leading Sweden. The UK also scores well in two of the three early OGAE results.

3. Rehearsals
The proof of how a song will be staged, and how well it’s coming across in rehearsals, can cause big shifts in the ante-post market. Last year, Azerbaijan’s innovative show saw an immediate drop in price. Who will be the 2014 equivalent?

In truth, the beauty of rehearsals is it could be anyone. Still, Farid’s box was the brainchild of Fokas Evangelinos, a master of Eurovision staging who’s also brought to light Ani Lorak’s ‘Shady Lady’, and the winning ‘My Number One’ routine. His worst result is seventh (with a giant Greek stapler), and he is masterminding the Russian staging this year, for which we already have a clue with stand-in performers

Ukraine are past masters of the before and after extreme makeover. Having thought Mariya’s sneak preview on the small Amsterdam stage looked busy in the venue, it could easily come into its own when properly showcased on TV from Copenhagen. The upbeat entries do have more licence – although that can go either way.

4. News stories during Eurovision week
It’s worth speculating where the focus of attention will be during the week itself. This is when plenty of new punters get involved in betting on the contest, bringing with them a new perspective. Publicity garners their attention and can see odds drop. Krista’s “controversial” lesbian kiss did just that for Finland last year.

This year there are two likely headliners. Individually the focus looks most likely to be on Austria’s Conchita Wurst, and more broadly it will be on Ukraine and Russia in competition against each other. I expect plenty of column inches for both stories, and my guess is that Austria and Ukraine’s odds will drop as a result.

5. The British (and Irish) bias
Betfair and many other betting sites are British companies serving a largely British and Irish clientele. The betting culture is widespread in both countries. This means market strength for British and Irish entries if they appear to have a chance. The late gamble on Jedward’s 2011 effort was one of the biggest in recent memory.

It seems remarkable now, but in 2012 the British public placed tens of thousands of pounds at High Street bookies on Engelbert Humperdinck winning. These bookmakers then hedged their liabilities by backing Engelbert on Betfair, with punters such as myself taking on their bets and the risk of big losses if the UK won.

It seems safe to say that the British press will be hyping Molly’s chances this year, and that means a likely drop in price on the big day. As a footnote, it will be interesting to see how much interest there is in Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, well enough known in the UK from her X Factor run.

Guessing the market can be a fool’s errand, but the three countries that have more than one honourable mention here are the UK, Ukraine and Austria. They seem the most sensible suggestions as potential market springers. What do you think? Let us know where you reckon the market goes from here.

58 comments to Eurovision 2014: Who will be the market springers?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    There is a piece on Molly and the UK entry in this week’s TV Times. It also plucks out 4 other entries it describes as ‘notable’:

    Spain – (with Ruth Lorenzo being familiar to UK viewers?)
    France – (visual novelty song from near neighbour?)
    Russia – (cute blonde twins teenage girls – enuf said?)
    Austria – (last but not least: the big conversation point of this year’s ESC? Wouldn’t it be amusing if Austria finished above Armenia? Lol)

  • Sander

    How about Greece? I am not a big fan of this kind of music but they do have a total package that ticks a lot of boxes. Up-tempo, good looking guys, they sing competently, Greece can count on the diaspora vote and it’s a catchy song with a melody that feels Greek. I think it is as entertaining as alcohol is free. I don’t understand why Greece is not higher in the odds and seriously think they will climb pretty fast when the rehearsals are starting.

  • Daniel

    Hi Sander, I think you make a decent case. It will be interesting to see how it is staged when rehearsals begin, and there is plenty of room for improvement from the national final.

    By the way, a paragraph on new versions failed to make the cut because the only songs for which significant changes were made (Ukraine and Spain) happened a while back. Still, following on from Sweden earlier this week, Slovenia has just revealed minor changes in the Eurovision version of its song:

  • Boki

    The public perception is that the juries will ensure that Greece doesn’t come close to winning (rap part etc.) so I guess that’s the reason the price is so high. It’s hard for me to tell how much they shorten is the staging is good.
    Another potential is Romania (again the staging is crucial) which should do better with the juries and being the only duet – if they not overdo it.

    • Daniel

      Romania is another interesting one from the staging perspective, Boki. I have heard that their idea for a hologram effect has been rejected by producers.

      Talking of entries where staging will be interesting and can go either way, here is the Eurovision version of the Polish entry:

      • Interesting romania were trying to go with the hologram effect,this could look amazing if done right. Last years new wave performance from dima bilan showed the potential with this
        Im surprised this keeps getting turned down as it would make for some amazing eye candy for viewers

      • Montell

        I don’t understand why Poland edited their song. Now it sounds like it’s shortened. Also the English part sounds very bad. They ruined a good song.
        I think songs that are originally longer than 3 minutes do bad in eurovision because when they are shortened they doesn’t sound that good. Last year this was the case with Germany. This year we have Poland and Italy who shortened their songs and now they lack something in it. I’m no longer a backer of Poland or Italy.

      • That certainly is an interesting edit for Poland. Overlooking the poor sound quality which naturally makes you think less of it – it’s very astute of them to introduce a little pause between the chorus and verses. It means Cleo can keep up and deliver the best possible vocal performance. It also helps the chorus to be more identifiable within the song, but on the other hand, it feels like its flow is somewhat interrupted.

        I don’t think it’ll be too big a deal for all the people hearing it for the first time – but it’s good to know that they are focusing on the vocal performance, which is crucial for a song that’s in danger of receiving a battering by the juries.

  • Tom

    I thougt the worst result of Fokas Evangelinos is the 16. place ?
    Alexei Worobjow 2011 ?

    • Boki

      Please check the facts before you think (info below frim his website):

      2013, 2nd place for Azerbaijan and Farid Mammadov with the song «Hold me»
      2009, 7th place for Greece and Sakis Rouvas with the song «This is our night»
      2008, 1st place for Russia and Dima Bilan with the song “Believe me” and 2η place for Ukraine and Annie Lorak with the song “Shady Lady”
      2007, 6th place for Belarus and Dmitry Koldun with the song « Work your magic»
      2006, 2nd place for Russia and Dima Bilan,
      2006, Creative director of the Eurovision Contest held in Greece
      2005, 1st place for Greece and H. Paparizou with the song «My number one”
      2004, 3rd place for Greece and Sakis Rouvas with the song «Shake it”

      • Boki

        Or to be more polite, I can’t find any reference between Alexei and Fokas so if oyu have a link please post it.

        • Tom

          In 2011, I read it in different forums. Perhaps it was a rumour ?
          I remember that some greek members posted it.


          you can find the headline:

          “Mar 20 2011 ndash Fokas Evagelinos is officially announced by the Russian press as the choreographer of Alexey Sparrow Vorobyov who will sing “Get You”

          but the article behind the link does not exist anymore

  • Do you think it’s a good thing that the DR-producers are rejected this kind of “staging madness”? Personally, I’m happy with it.

  • Daniel

    Thanks Tom, I stand corrected. I hadn’t realised Russia 2011 was a Fokas production though it was typical of his stuff. Interesting that his worst result was with a lightweight tune representing Russia.

    Hi Gert, for me the producers are the experts and I accept their decisions on what effects are sensible. I’m someone who likes the occasional gimmick (what would ESC be without them?!), but I suppose it can go too far.

  • George

    Aram’s staging:

    Final nail in the coffin?

    • Daniel

      I wouldn’t have too many issues with it if it was the staging, but this is not like the other rehearsal clips with stand-ins because that’s Aram himself singing. It looks like a show he is giving.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      It looks like a good shout to try to present a relationship narrative for the staging. The ‘Not Alone’ video is expertly crafted…

      …so it seems a likely development that a song that produced such a strong realising of its lyrics for the video will produce a quality performance staging.

      Still intrigued at how it will be played on the night. The choreography, if done right, could make the Estonian choreo look cheap(er).

      The lift featured in the above instragam suggests (at a guess) grace and tenderness and so will likely be featured during the lengthy slow build of the song. This should bring visual interest that helps counteract the dangers of listeners growing impatient or bored. Aram helping with a few slow lifts will not interfere with his vocal control during the breathy, whispered, mantras interspersed at song beginning. There’s time and space vocally for Aram.

      But I still struggle to see how Aram’s angry passion will be weaved into a storyline. He can’t be bawling at her on stage can he?! The Hungarian entry’s storyline is easy to realise, with plaintive singer as saviour of the ‘running’ girl. The threat is an outside one, a threat extraneous to the staging. I guess Aram’s untelegenic looks and performance delivery further complicate production decisions.

      He’s angry and the problem / enemy, as he clearly perceives it, is the other’s loneliness. (which, frankly and unflatteringly, reads as a projection of his own unacknowledged loneliness!). He anger needs to be interpreted as passion rather than blame.

      Otherwise Aram could come across as misogynistic, in addition to the homophobic reputation that precedes him.

      Am fascinated to see how the Armenian production team figure all this out.

      On reflection, Fokas’s staging for Farid and Azerbaijan last year was ingeniously conceived, perfectly artistically pitched, genius stuff.

  • Tom

    i think the staging in may will be completely different

  • Dash Berlin

    Just the other day, I put my first bets down on overpriced songs in my eyes. Austria, UK, Ukraine, Hungary – which is what led me to see the strange top 10 UK price – so it looks like we are thinking the same Daniel, which would explain why the 3 we both mention have shortened in the last 2 days

  • PeterNL

    Do you think that the fact that all the individual jury scores will be published after the show, can have a serious impact on their voting behavior? I can imagine they might become more reluctant to vote for crazy stagings or non-standard songs.

    • Dash Berlin

      I’ve discussed this with Eurovicious – the new voting system for Jury, seems that the middle of road songs will do better now. Pure televote appeal songs and pure jury appeal songs get dragged down too much.
      I don’t the publishing of the scores will have a huge impact, I don’t think juries often gave high marks to non-standard/crazy songs before anyway. The “fix” votes will still happen, regardless

  • chewy wesker

    Market Springers for me would be, more of a shorting on the uk, the patriotic pound will sure enough bring Molly into single figure. Which goes against the tide, as I thought punters had wised up to the uk chances. But as molly appears on more tv shows, I think money will come in for her, and like you say Daniel bookmakers will lay off prices via betfair. Others I think will shorten will be austria romania estonia russia and we have to have a short favorite so can see money also for armenia.

  • Gert

    Can I give an advice? Trust your own knowledge and judgment first. I think everyone is looking a bit too much at the odds.

    What helps is making your own TOP 15 prediction….and keep updating it everytime more information (staging info, videos, etc.) comes available. I used to participate with colleague editors on in a football-esque poule. Just an idea.

    I hear people saying, that one should be careful with that. It can cloud your judgment as well. Well, I think it’s better than looking too much at the odds.

    And ask yourself honest questions. For instance: Can you place yourself in the shoes of the televoters? Do you really listen a lot to the favourites? Or do you listen to it more once it was bombarded as favourite? Do you think you can get emotional feelings of this entry once staged properly? Could this be an underestimated entry?

  • I’m interested to know what everyone’s thoughts on Greece and Russia are. Not as potential springers, just in general, since there was no article written by Daniel about these entries.

    • Justin

      Ben, my thoughts on Russia are that its a very solid entry – I rate it as good as Dina last year and the twins are actually far more telegenic. If the staging comes off I think it could surprise a lot of people.

      However, my view is that there are several reasons why its weak in the market:
      (1) Its a really generic song and the typed loathed by Eurovision fans (I don’t particularly like it)
      (2) The political situation has led to much speculation on various sites that juries (and perhaps televoters) will ‘punish’ Russia for what has widely been reported in western Europe as Russian aggression
      (3) There are 3 other very strong entries from the ex-USSR block namely Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine and its a popular belief that four from that block can’t all reach top 10 in the same year.

      It’s a tricky one because I do think its a very decent entry that will appeal to the Saturday night audience – and in a standard year without the three points above I would be backing it for top 10 and top 5. In the circumstances I’m neither a backer nor a layer.

      Daniel, do you have thought son Russia?

      • Daniel

        Hi Justin, have to largely agree with what you and Boki have written. Although I don’t think the song is particularly strong at all – in fact, it’s incredibly bland – it will be interesting to see how Fokas stages it.

        The new system allows juries to punish more effectively, and that could come into play with Russia this year.

      • Dash Berlin

        I have to say I’ve listened to Russia a few times, and its so bland as Daniel says. I seem to miss any change of note/tempo to get me interested.
        Its Russia though, so I can’t see it sinking without trace (and has been mentioned elsewhere, will get televote sympathy if the young girls get booed on the night)

    • Boki

      Justin described it perfectly I think.
      Russia is taking things seriously this year with Fokas on staging and whole team (see Kirkorov interview) but the price is heavily influenced with ‘punish’ speculations. Kirkorov said “let i remain on the conscience on those who will vote”…

    • I think this is Russia’s weakest song since Alexei Whatshisname. As Daniel says, it’s seriously bland, and the lyrics are just over the top saccharine even for ESC.

      What keeps me from laying it now is that I think the impact of the political situation is being far far exaggerated, leading to odds being too long. Normally I assume it would have been 1.50-1.70 for top10, and I’d been interested in laying (given that the staging doesn’t turn out stunning).

      • eurovicious

        I also think it’s the weakest since 2011 (not 2010, which I liked, it was just an anti-fanwank), but I don’t think the possible political effect is being exaggerated, bearing in mind that under the “combined ranking” system, the jury of 5 people in countries with Russian minorities can very easily prevent Russia getting its usual televote points. What Putin did in Ukraine sent a threat to every post-Soviet country – so how many jurors in these countries are gonna think “I know, I’ll put Russia in my top third”?

        • George

          Russia will certainly get more televotes than usual in ex-Soviet countries thanks to the Russian minorities trying to make a point, but yeah the juries will probably kill it off completely.

          I’m most interested in Ukraine’s split. What a great year to finally get full split results! Could Russia sneak a point or two combined?

  • Rob4

    i think France could be a springer if they go on a Jedward style promotion campaign nearer the final. their price is not reflected in the polls either where they are much higher.

  • Luke

    I think you’re stop on about Austria… Conchita is working the media harder than anyone else, and “Woman with beard makes Eurovision final” is a very easy story for many of the Friday fee and sold newspapers, if not for the tabloids on the day.

    I’m tempted to back us doing well now. It’s got Guy Freeman behind it.

    My favourite betting game has always been to bet against fan favouries qualifying – something schlager will get everyone’s attention in CPH, drop in price, but be a complete no-hoper. The one that’s surprisingly me in the polls is how low Malta is.

  • Perfect observations here about Russia and France. I agree ;-). Makes it even harder for Netherlands to qualify….

  • Justin

    My thoughts on Greece are that it may struggle to reach the top 10 this year.

    First they have sent a clubby-dance song, the like of which tend to be punished by juries (I remember reading Daniel’s article on Romania and reference to the recent poor record of dance songs with juries). Its lyrics are wafer-thin and I would be worried about the live vocal.

    Second the new voting system means a jury bottom 6 could completely negative a high televote in friendly nations. Some of their ‘soft’ allies like the UK, Germany and Belgium may give Greece very little – following the pattern of 2012.

    Third Greece are missing a few of their key ‘hard’ allies this year – most obviously the guaranteed 12pts from Cyprus – but also Serbia and Bulgaria are out. Thats an estimated potential total of 25-30pts lost.

    If juries continue to reject dancey-type songs then Greece may just be left with Albania, Romania and a couple of the ex-USSRs to rely on as ‘allies’. Nowhere near enough for top 10 on their own.

    The problem this year is that its much easier to find reasons to lay entries for the top 10 than it is reasons to back them. I’m struggling with that at the moment. Something has to finish top 10!!

    Daniel, Boki, Gert, anyone else ..any thoughts?

    • Boki

      Don’t know yet, they hinted ‘visualizing rise up’ staging, hope it’s good. Good point about missing those guaranteed points.
      I wouldn’t discard it for top10 though, it’s a club dance song which can get some youth western points also but agree that juries are the worry.

      • Daniel

        Hi Justin, I tend to agree with Boki here: I wouldn’t discount it for top ten. It’s pretty damned immediate and contemporary – it may not need those old friends to still do very well in the televote. As Boki says, the doubt is how juries will take to it.

  • eurovicious

    This from a Guardian article: “studies have shown [that] people around you in social situations will feel more comfortable with someone they can clearly categorise according to expectation”. Doesn’t augur well for Conchita.

    • chewy wesker

      No it doesn’t really, and I worry about her. Her price has really crashed from just last week in from the high 200’s to now 60. All value has vanished, and with her now in the top ten, expectations are high and really hope she gets a massive score on the night. I do think price will shorten even further. I’ve no doubt she’ll qualify, eurovision needs Conchita.

  • SirMills

    I think the situation in Russia will only work in their favor. The Russian diaspora will vote much more than usual in order to make a point. Saying the juries will “punish” Russia for their action is pure speculation. Is there any historical evidence of juries punishing a certain song because of politics? I think juries vote according to their best conscience unless they get a huge cash bonus they can’t refuse or if they have very good reason to give sympathy votes. Juries are made of musicians who validate their credibility and wouldn’t want to risk it for nothing. If I were a juror in a post-Soviet country and I considered Russia a threat, then if it were to influence me (which it wouldn’t) I would maybe think twice before publishing my name potentially to Mr. Putin’s black list. Really I think this jury “punish” speculation is very over rated. This year Russia has arguably the most likable contestants of the competition, a proven magician in control of the stage that performs miracles with every single entry he works with, 25 millions of people spread around Europe likely to multi vote. Yes I think the song is average, and I thought exactly the same of Azeri’s entry last year. I am full with the 100+ on Russia very confident I can offload some of it below 50. I have made my bet on the market springer this season, and I am very happy with it.

    • Durhamborn

      I think thats probably right.What tends to happen in these situations isnt a country is punished by juries but that others are rewarded.The classic case is in 1982. Nicoles “Ein bißchen Frieden” got the highest percentage of points and held the record until Norway in 2009.The final was held the very same day as British forces engaged in full combat in the Falklands.The UK finished 7th so wasnt punished for being at war,but the song “A little Peace” was rewarded for its sentiments, no doubt about that.It chimed with people.
      Its a different situation now but i expect similar to happen but on a much smaller scale.
      So i see Ukraine getting slightly higher votes from juries than it would of and getting much more press than usual.Given how well Maria comes across that will increase her televote in the west.The UK also has a fists in the air song and is the other likely country to see a pick up in votes.The sentiment of the song should connect to people as well.
      Iv had been taking every layer on who has come against both the UK and Ukraine as i fully expect them both to be much shorter than iv been laying them at and (iv stopped now and traded some UK out) come finals week the best way to get a free green book and two big free runs.

      Other real outlandish small bets but big greens i have to trade are Poland average 144,Slovenia average 361s,Estonia average 217s,Romania average 85s and Italy average 101s.I fully expect not to be able to get out of some of those though but hope for one or two to shorten in well.Depends if some can get out of the semis and gain some traction.

      Iv also been laying Sweden at 4.0s and 4.1s.Im a bit worried it might go into the contest as favourite and il have to run it but i can live with that if i have to.

      • Durhamborn

        That should read (UK/Ukraine) “i expect them both to be much shorter than iv been backing them at” .Iv been taking the layers on.

        • SirMills

          I think UK is a solid “spring bet” I have been taking a lot of it my self 25 + planing to sell when it comes close to a single digit odds, but the problem is I’m not so sure I will be willing to sell. I’m getting ridiculously positive about it’s chances at the moment.. I love the Ukrainian entry but I’m more pessimistic about their chances, though it surely might shorten in price.Maria Yaremchuk as lovely as she is is far too threatening to the average female and that will hit hard in the televote I reckon.

      • “Nicoles “Ein bißchen Frieden” got the highest percentage of points and held the record until Norway in 2009.The final was held the very same day as British forces engaged in full combat in the Falklands.The UK finished 7th so wasnt punished for being at war,but the song “A little Peace” was rewarded for its sentiments, no doubt about that.It chimed with people.”

        But Germany had nothing to do with the Falklands War did it?
        One could certainly argue now that “Power to the People” might chime with people in the same way. Why do Ukraine reap the benefits this time if Germany had nothing to do with the Falklands?

        I mean ok you could say Argentina aren’t in Eurovision but… you get my point. Ukraine don’t have a song that says winner. It’s strong but it’s still a bit tacky.

  • The new ESC Tips podcast is here, with a great guest this week 😉

    It won’t let me post the link though for some reason…

  • Hopefully this YouTube link works.

    We are also #availableonitunes

  • George

    The Eurovision album has just been released in many European countries. Will be interesting to see how the entries chart. On German iTunes (excluding Elaiza) the UK is in the lead, followed by Armenia, Denmark and Sweden respectively.

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