Making sense of the changes to the Eurovision voting process

April 8, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 8th April 2016

As you may have heard, changes are being made to the voting process for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest – changes that the official Eurovision website claim are the “biggest change to Eurovision Song Contest voting since 1975”. In reality, in some ways the changes being made are probably less dramatic than the decision to move from jury voting to televoting/public voting in 1997/1998 and the decision to revert to a 50-50 split between televoting and jury voting in 2009/2010. But there are notable changes, all the same, with these perhaps mainly relating to the manner in which the Eurovision votes are presented at the Final – changes that the EBU claim will make the contest more “exciting”. As seen in relation to the decision to have “producer-driven running orders instead of randomly drawn onces (introduced the last time Sweden hosted the contest in 2013), sometimes the effort made “in creating TV magic” can involve a lack of fairness to certain participants. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunlight or Darkness? – Predictions for the 2016 Eurovision Semi Final contests

April 8, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 8th April 2016 (Updated: 22nd April 2016)

As I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest,  Denmark’s win in 2013 and Sweden’s win in 2015,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the running order for the two 2016 Eurovision semi-finals. Those of you who have read The Eurovision Handbook 2013 (as well as the 2014 edition of this – sadly low purchase levels of this notwithstanding…) will know that I used this same model to (sort of!) successfully predict most of the qualifiers for the 2013 and 2014 finals. This same model also succeeded in predicting most of the semi-final qualifiers in the 2015 contest.

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Eurovision 2016 Semi-Final running orders revealed – What does it mean for Ireland?

March 29, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 29th March 2016 – updated 8th April

After some delay, SVT, the Swedish host broadcaster for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, finally announced the running order allocations for this year’s two semi-final contests at 7am on Friday 8th April. While the semi-final allocation draw in January did determine which half of the semi-finals the 18 countries in Semi Final 1 and the 19 countries in Semi Final 2 would perform in, the host broadcasters (as has been the case since the last time Sweden hosted the contest in 2013) get to determine the exact position in the running order that each country/act will perform in. (The same rule applies also for Eurovision Finals, although there was a draw this year to determine the position that the hosts, Sweden, would be performing in (and Sweden drew the 9th position in the Final running order).

The running orders are:

Semi Final 1: 1. Finland, 2. Greece, 3. Moldova, 4. Hungary, 5. Croatia, 6. The Netherlands, 7. Armenia, 8. San Marino, 9. Russia, 10. Czech Republic, 11. Cyprus, 12. Austria, 13. Estonia, 14. Azerbaijan, 15. Montenegro, 16. Iceland, 17. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18. Malta

Semi Final 2: 1. Latvia, 2. Poland, 3. Switzerland, 4. Israel, 5. Belarus, 6. Serbia, 7. Ireland, 8. FYR Macedonia, 9. Lithuania, 10. Australia, 11. Slovenia, 12. Romania, 13. Bulgaria, 14. Denmark, 15. Ukraine, 16. Norway, 17. Georgia, 18. Albania, 19. Belgium

However, with Romania having been disqualified on 22nd April 2016 the Semi Final 2 running order now reads as follows: 1. Latvia, 2. Poland, 3. Switzerland, 4. Israel, 5. Belarus, 6. Serbia, 7. Ireland, 8. FYR Macedonia, 9. Lithuania, 10. Australia, 11. Slovenia, 12. Bulgaria, 13. Denmark, 14. Ukraine, 15. Norway, 16. Georgia, 17. Albania, 18. Belgium

Figure 1: Average points per position in the running order at Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals between 2008 and 2015

While it is claimed that this helps make for a better/more balanced show, there is some controversy associated with this approach given that statistics suggest that certain positions in the Eurovision running order can help/hinder an act’s chances of qualifying out of a semi-final and/or doing well in a Eurovision Final. This is evident from a study of the Eurovision Semi Final voting statistics in Figure 1 above.
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Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests based on past voting histories

January 25, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 25th January 2016

In terms of working out who may win this year’s two Eurovision semi-finals/predicting which countries might qualify from these, various factors can be looked at, but the four most significant ones are:

  • the song quality (which I use Eurovision betting odds as a means of trying to quantify this)
  • past voting histories (involving the different countries – the semi-finalists themselves and the three Big 5/Host countries drawn to vote in these – that will be voting in the different semi-finals)
  • position in the semi-final running order
  • performance quality (both in the (public)  show itself and the previous night’s dress rehearsal/jury final, which is the contest that the Eurovision juries get to vote on).

As only a crystal ball can predict the quality and impact of the different acts’ Eurovision performances at this stage and as betting odds and draw/running order position details are not yet known, this analysis will just focus on past voting history as a means of determining which countries are likely to qualify for the 2016 Eurovision Final.

During the televoting era, countries have shown a remarkable consistency in terms of the other countries that they vote for. This is probably most evident in the case of Greece and Cyprus’s tendency to award each other douze points in Eurovision contests, but similar trends can be observed for most other European contestants, including Ireland who showed a remarkable consistency during the “full-blown” televoting era in awarding its high Eurovision points to Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom, especially from 2005 onwards. Such has been the consistency in Eurovision countries’ voting patterns during the 2000s that one can easily suggest the existence of different, geographically-based, voting blocs, which tend to award especially high numbers of points to certain countries (not necessarily always other bloc members) and from which bloc members can expect to attain their highest Eurovision points tallies.

It is worth noting, however, that the impact of such “bloc voting” has been tempered in recent years by the reintroduction of a professional jury voting element as part of a 50-50 voting system involving televoting and jury votes. The changing rules determining how each country’s televotes and jury votes are combined to determine their Eurovision points allocations, as applied from 2013 onwards, has further diluted the impact of bloc voting, except in those cases where a country’s jury is more likely to vote geographically/politically than that country’s public vote is. But given that televoting still accounts for half of the total votes being awarded by countries, past voting histories of countries will give some indication as to the destination of their Eurovision votes in the 2015 Semi Finals, and also suggests that some countries – due to an ability to score highly within one, or more, Eurovision voting blocs – will start these semi finals at somewhat of an advantage to countries such as the Czech Republic, San Marino, Montenegro, Switzerland and Bulgaria, which have struggled to win Eurovision points over the past decade and half. But, effectively, all this model can try to predict is the destination of different Eurovision countries’ televotes – the destination of profession jury votes (which are solely based on the subjective views of five professionals/”experts” in each of the 43 participating countries) is harder to decipher.

To analyse this, I calculated, and ranked, the average number of points awarded by all the countries voting in the semi-finals since the introduction of televoting in 1998 to the 36 different countries that are taking part in these two semi-finals (18 countries in Semi Final 1, 18 countries in Semi Final 2 – following the disqualification of Romania on 22nd April 2016). The countries that have voting rights in these semi finals include (a) all the countries competing in that semi final and (b) the three big 5/Host countries that have been drawn to vote in that semi final.

In most cases, since the introduction of the 50-50 televotes/jury vote system, the official/combined points allocations of a country have been used, but in cases where televote details can be attained (as at the 2014  and 2015 contests, due to a decision to release the split jury vote and televote details for those contests) then the televote details have been used. This ranking is then used to determine the semi-finalists that the different voting countries are likely to award their 12 points, 10 points…and 1 point to in these semi-finals, based on past voting histories. Hence, in the case of Semi Final 2, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 8.18 points from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Denmark (7.10 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, Latvia (6.33 points average), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on…(7 points to Poland, 6 points to Belgium, 5 points to Norway, 4 points to Australia, 3 points to Ukraine 2 points to Slovenia and 1 point to Serbia). The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 20 voting countries in the Semi Final 2 are estimated in a similar manner (with a similar process also used for the Semi Final 1 voting countries). These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based solely on the past voting histories of the countries voting in these different contests.   

Based on this analysis, the following result would be predicted for Semi Final 1:

1. Azerbaijan 135 points, 2. Russia 133, 3. Greece 123, 4. Armenia 107, 5. Bosnia and Herzegovina 81, 6j. Malta and Hungary 69, 8. Iceland 68, 9. Estonia 62, 10. Finland 58, 11. Moldova 57, 12. Netherlands 56, 13. Austria 49, 14. Croatia 41, 15. San Marino 38, 16. Cyprus 34, 17. Montenegro 32, 18. Czech Republic 6

With so many of the Eastern European/Former Soviet “big hitters” in this semi final, it is perhaps not surprising that these countries are seen as likely to figure among the leaders on the scoreboard for this semi final, based solely on this analysis of each voting country’s past Eurovision voting histories (including the 18 semi-finalists and the Big 5/Host countries voting in this semi-final: Spain, France and Sweden). The inclusion of Sweden, as a voting country in this semi final, is seen to be a crucial factor in helping the chances of Iceland, Estonia and Finland, given how narrow the margin is between the countries ranked between 6th and 13th position in this analysis. Against that, based on this analysis the countries ranked in the Top 5 here seem well placed to contend for a Final place, barring a very low ranking by the professional juries and/or a poor song/performance.  

Based on this analysis, the following result would have been initially predicted for Semi Final 2:

1. Ukraine 120 points, 2. Serbia 110, 3. Denmark 101, 4. Norway 88, 5. Latvia 74, 6. Israel 72, 7. Lithuania 70, 8j. FYR Macedonia and Australia 69, 10. Romania 67, 11. Poland 66, 12. Albania 61, 13. Belgium 59, 14j. Belarus and Georgia 53, 16. Ireland 41, 17. Bulgaria 40, 18. Slovenia 34, 19. Switzerland 29.

However, following the disqualification of Romania on 22nd April 2016 (as discussed in this Wiwibloggs post), this means that one less country – Romania – will be voting in this semi final, which now has become an 18-country semi-final.  With 58 fewer points to be distributed, this means that the number of points predicted to be won by each country will, on average, fall by a few points. This factor also works against those countries that would have been expected to win the highest number of points off Romania, based on the above analysis, namely Israel, Ukraine and Serbia. It also means that countries that would have been expected to awarded higher points levels to Romania (including Israel, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria and Albania), arising out of the analysis for this model, will now be awarding these points to other countries. This, of course, has a knock-on effect in terms of the number of points that would be predicted to be won for these countries.

(It is interesting to note that some countries – e.g. Latvia, Poland, Australia, Lithuania, Georgia, Switzerland – actually gain points in the updated analysis, as seen below, but some other countries – e.g. Israel, FYR Macedonia – are losing a significant number of points due to Romania’s disqualification. Indeed, Israel were ranked 6th in the earlier analysis, but are now overtaken by Poland, Australia and Lithuania in the updated model, excluding Romania. Similarly, Poland are also seen to leapfrog FYR Macedonia in the updated analysis.)

Based on the updated analysis (which now excludes Romania), the following result would have been predicted for Semi Final 2:

1. Ukraine 118 points, 2. Serbia 108, 3. Denmark 100, 4. Norway 88, 5. Latvia 78, 6j. Lithuania and Australia 72, 8. Poland 69, 9. Israel 66,  10. FYR Macedonia 65, 11. Albania 63, 12. Belgium 60, 13. Georgia 56, 14. Belarus 55, 15j. Ireland and Bulgaria 41, 18. Slovenia 34, 19. Switzerland 32.

With a good number of northern European, or Viking/Baltic Bloc countries, voting in this semi final, most of the north-western European countries are starting at an advantage here based on the past voting histories of the countries that will be voting in this semi final. (This, however, can also be a disadvantage as it means that a number of acts/countries from this region are all competing for the “Viking Bloc” vote.) The fact that the United Kingdom and Germany will be two of the “Big 5” countries voting in this semi final also adds to the significant advantage that these north-western countries enjoy. This is especially evident in the position of Denmark. Last year’s analysis predicted that Denmark (drawn then in a semi final with few Viking friends voting in it) would miss the final, which indeed transpired to be the case, but this year’s analysis shows a stronger ranking for Denmark, given the larger number of friendly Viking/Baltic bloc countries voting in this semi-final (which also includes Ireland and the UK, as well as the Baltic and Scandinavian countries). This analysis suggests that the Top 4 countries, as ranked here, well placed to contend for a Final place, barring a very low ranking by the professional juries and/or a poor song/performance, of course. The margin between the points calculated for the countries ranked between 5th and 15th positions (or even 5th and 17th/18th positions) is relatively narrow, however, suggesting that this is a very open semi-final in which everything is all to play for. It is also worth noting that last year’s analysis predicted lowly rankings/low points tallies for Slovenia and Montenegro in Semi Final 2, but both these countries went on to qualify for the Final. It is also worth 

So to conclude, this study offers a prediction as to how the 32 countries participating in the two semi-finals may fare in these. Due to a lack of a functioning crystal ball, this analysis cannot assess the impact of a vital element of Eurovision success or failure, namely the quality and impact of the performance on the Eurovision stage. An impactful stage act and strong performance can push previously unfavoured acts into contention, but a weak live performances can in turn nix the prospects of contest favourites. And the growing influence being accorded to the voting juries, arising from new rules on how each country’s televote and jury vote rankings are to be combined, is another aspect that may further skew this picture. (Even more so in this set of semi finals than in the two previous years, given that juries from 21 countries will be voting/ranking countries in both of these semi finals, as opposed to 18/19 countries at the 2014 semi-finals and 20/21 countries at the 2015 semi-finals.)

At this stage, we do not know how each country is faring in, or likely to fare in the bookie odds, given that relatively few countries have selected their Eurovision act and songs at this stage. Although we know which half of the semi final each country will be performing in, we also do not know the exact position in the running order that each country will be performing in at this stage and that too can have a notable bearing on the final result.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that if you decide to bet on the Final results based solely on this study and you make a few bob, then that’s great and mine’s a TK red lemonade (with the fizz taken out – the bubbles go to my head). On the other hand, if your bet goes horribly wrong and you single handedly cause another economic crash, then you’ll probably find me in deepest Outer Mongolia…😮

2016 Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final allocation draw: What does it mean for Ireland?

January 25, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 25th January 2016

The semi final allocation draw for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest took place in  Stockholm earlier this morning.


Ireland Nicky Byrne (with Sunlight) will be competing in the first half of the second Eurovision semi-final on 12th May 2016.


Eurovision Semi Final 1 (10th May) – 10 countries (out of 18) will qualify for the Final:

Performing in First Half: Croatia, Finland, Moldova, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Russia, The Netherlands, San Marino

Performing in Second Half: Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Iceland, Austria

Big 5/Host countries voting in this semi final: Spain, Sweden, France


Eurovision Semi Final 2 (12th May) – 10 countries (out of 19) will qualify for the Final:

Performing in First Half: Latvia, Belarus, Ireland, Switzerland, FYR Macedonia, Australia, Lithuania, Poland, Israel, Serbia


Ireland’s Nicky Byrne performs in the first half of Eurovision Semi Final 2 (Nicky Byrne/RTE, 2016)

Performing in Second Half: Albania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Romania, Slovenia, Norway, Ukraine, Belgium

Big 5/Host countries voting in this semi final: Germany, Italy, United Kingdom (same as in 2015!)


This is not a particularly amazing draw for Ireland’s Nicky Byrne (although it could of course be worse) – a sort of curate’s egg with a few more bad parts than good parts…

On the plus side:

  • The United Kingdom (the friendliest Eurovision country to Irish acts) will be voting in this semi final
  • Denmark (the next/second friendliest Eurovision country to Irish acts) will be voting in this semi final, as will other friendly countries, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Belgium and Switzerland
  • Ireland has avoided some of the “big hitters” (and regular semi final qualifiers) in this draw, including current contest favourites, Russia, as well as Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan and Armenia
  • The already-selected, highly rated, Maltese entry (Chameleon by Eurovision 2002 runner-up, Ira Losco) will be in the other semi-final
  • France (one of the least friendly Eurovision countries towards Irish acts) will not be voting in this semi final

On the more negative side:

  • Ireland are drawn in the larger (19 country) of the two semi-finals (Semi Final 2)
  • Ireland have been drawn to perform in the first half of that semi-final
  • Italy (probably the least friendly Eurovision country towards Irish acts) will be voting in this semi final
  • Malta (the third friendliest Eurovision country to Irish acts) will not be voting in this semi final, aas will be the case with other friendly countries, such as San Marino, Hungary, Finland, Estonia and The Netherlands
  • Ireland has ended up in the same semi-final as some of the “big hitters” (and regular semi final qualifiers) in this draw, including Serbia, as well Ukraine, Romania, Denmark and Norway (and these last four countries are all drawn to perform in the second half of that semi-final!)
  • Sweden (one of the more friendly Eurovision countries towards Irish acts) will not be voting in this semi final


At this stage, we already know three of the acts/songs that will be facing Nicky Byrne in this semi-final and these include:

Belgium's Laura Tesoro ( één, 2016)

Belgium’s Laura Tesoro ( één, 2016)

FYR Macedonia (Kaliopi) and Georgia (Young Georgian Lolitaz) have both selected their acts, but song details have not been revealed as of yet.

Analysis of the draw for 2016 Eurovision Song Contest semi finals. Which countries does Ireland want to be drawn with and which do they need to avoid?

January 22, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 22nd January 2016

The draw for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest semi finals takes place on Monday 25th January in Stockholm’s City Hall. After this draw, Ireland will know whether Nicky Byrne will be taking part in Semi Final 1 (on 10th May 2016) or Semi Final 2 (on 12th May 2016) and will also know the 17/18 other countries that will be competing against Nicky Byrne for one of the ten qualifier slots from this semi final. The three Big 5/Host countries that will have the right to vote in this semi final will also be known after this. This post will assess the possibilities facing Ireland ahead of this draw and pinpoint what would be an ideal/nightmare draw for the Irish act.  Read the rest of this entry »

Split voting results for Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015: Disappointing Jury Vote score for Ireland

December 21, 2015

Adrian Kavanagh, 21st December 2015

The split voting results for the 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest were released today on the official contest website. In terms of Ireland’s vote patterns, some unexpected results emerge here. Aimee Banks’ Realt Na Mara was viewed as a quality, yet more challenging, entry, which was expected to rank higher amongst the jury voters than the amongst the public vote/televote, especially given that Ireland had relatively few “friends” among the other countries that were competing/also voting in this year’s contest. But it transpired that Aimee fared notably better amongst the televoters than amongst the professional jury voters – finishing in 10th place with 43 points in the televote, but finishing in 14th place with 19 points in the jury vote. Read the rest of this entry »

42 countries will take part in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

November 24, 2015

Adrian Kavanagh, November 24th 2015 

On November 24th 2015 it was confirmed that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be returning to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 for the first time in four years. Two days later, it was also confirmed that Croatia would also be returning to the contest after having missed the 2014 and 2015 contests. It has also been confirmed that Australia will again be invited to take part in Eurovision next year, although no decision has yet been made on whether Australia’s membership of the contest will be established on a permanent footing. This time, however, Australia will not be getting a bye to the Final and will have to take part in one of the two Eurovision semi-finals. Portugal are withdrawing from the 2016 contest, but Ukraine are returning to the contest after having missed the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, while – have successfully hosted the 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest last week – Bulgaria will also be returning to the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 2013. However, on 22nd April 2016 it was announced that Romania had been disqualified from this year’s contest.

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Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015: Overview of the Results

November 22, 2015

Adrian Kavanagh, 22nd November 2015

Aimee Banks finished in 12th place (with 36 points) with “Réalta Na Mara” last night in the 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest Final in Sofia. Aimee won points off 8 of the other 16 voting countries in last night’s contest, with her biggest tally of points coming from Malta (6), Australia (5) and Slovenia (4), with points also being won from The Netherlands (2), Georgia (2), Russia (2), Bulgaria (2) and San Marino (1). This represented the first time that an Irish act has won points off Australia, but also off Georgia, at a Eurovision contest. Aimee’s 12th place finish also represented Ireland’s best result at a Eurovision Final since Jedward’s 8th place finish at the 2011 Eurovision Final in Dusseldorf. Ireland awarded its 12 points last night to the host country, Bulgaria; being the only country to award the host the douze points at last night’s contest.

The contest resulted in a closely-fought battle between Armenia and Malta, with Malta’s Destiny Chukunyere (with Not My Soul) narrowly winning the contest ahead of Armenia’s Mika (with Love) – Malta finishing with 185 points and Armenia finishing in 2nd place with 176 points, 9 points behind. Slovenia finished in 3rd place – that country’s best ever finish in a Eurovision contest by far – with Lina Kuduzović’s Prva Ljubezen finishing with 112 points. Belarus (4th) and Albania (5th) rounded out the Top 5 – Mishela Rao’s 5th place finish was Albania’s best ever result at the Junior Eurovision to date, but also equalled Albania’s best ever result at a Eurovision Song Contest Final (Rona Nishliu’s Suus in 2012) up to this point in time. This contest also saw Montenegro’s Jana Mirković earn her country’s best ever result at a Junior Eurovision Song Contest, while equalling the best placing for Montenegro at a Eurovision Song Contest Final (Knez’s 13th place finish with Adio in the 2015 Final).

This was the third year in a row that the country who won the Kid’s Jury vote (Malta in 2013, Italy in 2014 and Malta again in 2015) has gone on to win the contest. The only time that a country won the Kid’s Jury and did not go on to win the contest was in 2012, when Georgia won the Kid’s Jury and Ukraine finished 2nd in this, but the order was reversed when it came to the final result, with a win for Ukraine and a second place finish for Georgia.

Running Order for 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest

November 15, 2015

Adrian Kavanagh, 15th November 2015

The running order for Saturday night’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest was made this evening in Sofia, with a draw to determine what half of the running order the different countries/acts would perform in being followed by a running order allocation by the show producers. Hosts, Bulgaria, drew their own position in the running order, while Serbia drew to perform in first position and Montenegro drew to perform last on the night. The running order for each of the 17 countries/acts performing on Saturday night is outlined here, with a brief discussion of how acts previously performing in that position have fare in previous contests. Read the rest of this entry »


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