Eurovision Final prediction: It’s Denmark but only by a teardrop…

Adrian Kavanagh, 17th May 2013

As I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest ( https://adriankavanagh.com/2011/05/13/g-oh-oh/ ), now that we know the running order for the 2013 Eurovision Final I am going to use this to tease out who the likely winners will be of the 2013 contest will be.

Those of you who have read The Eurovision Handbook 2013 will know that I used this same model to (sort of!) successfully predict most of the qualifiers for this year’s final: 

http://johnnyfallon.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/please-support-eurovision-handbook-in-aid-of-irish-cancer-society/ ).

With the numbers crunched, pre-contest favourites Denmark sit on the top of the pile, but only by a teardrop. And the figures suggest that Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Norway would also be very much in the mix to take the ultimate honours, with Greece, Italy, Germany, Georgia and Sweden closely in pursuit.

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In terms of working out who may win this year’s Eurovision (and hopefully making a few bob in the process) various factors can be looked at, but the three most significant ones are the Eurovision betting odds, past voting histories (involving the 26 finalists and the 13 other countries – which lost out in the semi-finals – that will be voting in this final) and draw position, as well as performance quality (both in the 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, this analysis will just focus on past voting history, draw position and betting odds as a means of determining which countries are likely to do well in the 2013 Eurovision Final.

Past voting histories: 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. 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. But given that televoting still accounts for half of the total votes being awarded by countries, past voting histories of countries will give a strong indicator as to the destination of their Eurovision votes in the 2013 Final, and also suggests that some countries – due to an ability to score highly within one, or more, Eurovision voting blocs – will start the contest at somewhat of an advantage to countries such as France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain and Belgium, which have struggled to win Eurovision points over the past decade and half. It must be noted that the change in the rules for the 2013 contest as to how televotes and jury votes will be combined does have the potential to even further blunt the impact of this bloc voting.

To analyse this, I calculated, and ranked, the average number of points awarded by all the countries voting in the Final since the introduction of televoting in 1998 to the 26 countries that are taking part in these two semi-finals. This ranking is then used to determine the 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 1, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 8.2 from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the other semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Denmark (6.8 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, The United Kingdom (5.1), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on. The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 38 voting countries in the Final are estimated in a similar manner. These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based on past voting histories for these contests.   

Draw position: As discussed in greater detail elsewhere on this site and in The Eurovision Handbook 2013, vote patterns for past contests suggest that a country’s draw position can (in part) determine how well they do in that contest, with certain positions in the contest running order (generally later, although certain earlier draw positions such as 10th have proven to be relatively good ones also) being associated with a stronger likelihood of success/higher average points level as against other draw positions (generally those in the earlier part of the show). In most cases a good draw position does not convey an unsurpassable advantage, which cannot be balanced by the quality of the entries involved and strong/weak performances on the night(s) in question or past voting histories. But, as discussed elsewhere, a good draw position has been show to give a notable advantage to different acts in the past, all things being even. For the purpose of these predictions, the average number of points won from different draw positions in all of the Eurovision Final contests over the past decade was calculated and assigned to the countries selected to perform in those positions at Saturday night’s final.

Ukraine's Zlata Ognevich is one of the strong contenders to win Eurovision 2013

Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich is one of the strong contenders to win Eurovision 2013

Betting odds: Past voting histories (or a tendency for countries to award their higher points to certain countries) and position in the contest running order does have an influence on Eurovision success rates. But these do not account for other key determinants of success – song quality and the impact of a song/the way a song is presented on the Eurovision stage. These factors are hard to measure but a variety of methods might be employed to determine rough estimates of these, including pre-contest internet polls although these may have their limitations. The closest approximation can probably be offered in terms of contest betting odds. As punters will want a return on their investment, it makes sense that they will be backing (what they perceive to be) the best entries in order to get this return. The link between betting odds and song quality/impact is not in keeping with the principles of exact science, but betting odds do at least offers some means of quantifying song quality. A number of contest analysts would argue that betting odds often offer the most potent means of estimating likelihood of contest success, as evident in the number of recent contests that have been won by the pre-contest favourite. This also allows for the identification of highly tipped entries, such as this year’s entry from The Netherlands, whose likelihood of doing well in the competition would not be evident from a study of prior voting patterns for those countries. The means of transforming the Final betting odds into Eurovision points was to identify the rankings (as of 11.00pm on 16th May 2013, before the running order for the Finals was announced some hours later) of the different countries across a range of betting websites. Points were assigned to different rankings based on the average number of points earned by countries finishing in that position in Eurovision Final contests held over the 2004-12 period.

Combining the voting bloc/history patterns with the impact of draw position and the betting odd weightings (and giving these a 50% weighting), the following result would be predicted:

  Odds Draw History Total
DENMARK 274 126 97 165
RUSSIA 162 106 196 155
UKRAINE 195 119 143 152
AZERBAIJAN 152 98 194 148
NORWAY 214 138 83 145
GREECE 76 102 200 126
ITALY 117 92 137 115
SWEDEN 71 82 174 109
GEORGIA 112 99 98 103
GERMANY 139 97 62 99
ARMENIA 15 83 166 88
ROMANIA 49 87 98 78
NETHERLANDS 123 80 25 76
IRELAND 88 101 32 74
FINLAND 99 46 56 67
HUNGARY 14 118 61 64
BELARUS 42 70 63 58
ESTONIA 30 83 61 58
MOLDOVA 51 62 60 58
ICELAND 19 82 68 56
BELGIUM 38 83 42 54
MALTA 57 55 45 52
UNITED KINGDOM 63 64 21 49
SPAIN 7 88 31 42
LITHUANIA 23 39 46 36
FRANCE 35 65 3 34

This does confirm the bookies take on the contest, but it suggests that the margin between Denmark and its closest rivals may be closer than what the bookie odds are suggesting. Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Norway would look to be very much in the mix and close enough to edge ahead of Denmark if they can out-perform Emmelie de Forest on Final night. While countries like Greece, Italy and Georgia are some distance behind this version of a “big 5”, they’re not by any means out of the running according to this model and are definitely contenders for a very high finish – good potential each way bets!!!

What about Ireland? Well performing last on the night would appear to be a very good draw given that acts performing later in the contest have traditionally done better, but this does not have the same value as performing last in a semi-final had for Jedward in 2011 and 2012 mainly because of the larger number of countries in a final! Only two finals previously have involved as many as 26 countries – the 2003 contest in Riga – in which the country performing last on the night, Slovenia, finished in the lower placings – and last year’s Baku final – in which the country performing last on the night, Moldova, finished in a mid-table position. Statistically the best draw position to get in a final is to perform third from the end, which is the position occupied by second favourites, Norway, followed by the 18th position in the final running order, which is occupied by contest favourites, Denmark. Ireland is also a victim of the success of the Nordic/Baltic bloc in this year’s semi-finals, with almost all the countries in this bloc (with exception of Latvia) making the final. This means that the votes from this bloc will be shared out between a significant number of countries and points will be harder to win, especially as this bloc also includes the two contest favourites, Denmark and Norway. These concerns are offset somewhat by a relatively strong ranking in the middle of the table in terms of the bookies odds, with the combination of these different aspects (voting history, position in running order, bookies odds) leading the model to predict that Ireland will finish in 14th position.

So to conclude, this study offers a prediction as to how the 26 countries in the Final may fare. 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. This is a very long-winded way of saying that if you decide to bet on the Final results based on this study and you make a few bob, then that’s great and mine’s a red lemonade (with the fizz taken out – the bubbles go to my head). On the other hand, if your bet goes horribly wrong, then you’ll probably find me in deepest Outer Mongolia… 😮

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7 Responses to “Eurovision Final prediction: It’s Denmark but only by a teardrop…”

  1. Eurovision Final – Prediction time….. | Johnny Fallon Says:

    […] Well the Eurovision 2013 Final is almost upon us. After a second semi final we know all the songs and the final line up. Its now time to try and call the final. This year we have quite a serious contest. Adrian Kavanagh who I assisted in writing the 2013 Eurovision hand book (which you should have bought and you still can if you follow the links Ive posted on earlier blogs) has worked very hard on a predictions model. Adrians predictions are here https://adriankavanagh.com/2013/05/17/eurovision-final-prediction-its-denmark-but-only-by-a-teardrop/ […]

  2. Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest and also Denmark’s win last year,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the […]

  3. 2014 Eurovision Final prediction: Undo the journey from Malmo to Copenhagen? | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest  and Denmark win in 2013, now that we know the running order for the 2014 Eurovision Final I am going to use this to tease […]

  4. Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests based on past voting history | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest and also Denmark’s win in 2013,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the […]

  5. Playing With Numbers – Predictions for the 2015 Eurovision Semi Final contests | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest and also Denmark’s win in 2013,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the […]

  6. 2015 Eurovision Final results estimate: Sweden? Russia? Azerbaijan? Italy? Who Knows? | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] have used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest  and Denmark win in 2013, while this same model correctly identified 17 of the 20 qualifiers from this year’s semi […]

  7. Dying to Try or Trying to Qualify?: Estimates for the 2017 Eurovision Semi Final contests | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] have used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest, Denmark’s win in 2013 and Sweden’s win in 2015,  as well as to predict that Russia would win the televote at the 2016 […]

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