The Eurovision Song Contest is Europe’s favourite television show and, consequently, it has developed into one of the world’s top novelty betting events. Only seven countries participated in the first Eurovision Song Contest back in 1956 – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland – with Lys Assia winning the inaugural competition for the Swiss. But in 2012, 42 nations took part in Azerbaijan – the previous year’s winner hosts the competition – and Sweden’s Loreen won very comfortably.
Not just about the song
One would be forgiven for thinking that the key to winning the Eurovision Song Contest would be, er, the song. But it is much more complicated than that, which is why it is one of the very best novelty betting events for punters. There are five keys to successful Eurovision Song Contest betting.
Tip 1. Abba-esque songs so 1974
There is a Eurovision Song Contest theory that any act that sounds like Abba, the Swedish band that became a worldwide phenomenon after winning the 1974 competition with Waterloo, has an excellent chance of taking out the title. But when it comes to defining the type of tune that wins the Eurovision Song Contest in the 21st century, Abba-esque schlager is the type least likely to triumph. For what one is looking these days is a catchy ethnopop song, ideally a tune that sticks to the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus formula that has typified most recent Eurovision Song Contest winners. Ethnopop is a eastern European style.
Tip 2. Clever performance gimmicks essential
Eurovision Song Contest competitors have three minutes to stand out from the crowd in the performance element of the broadcast that runs for the best part of two hours. The days of being able to take out the Eurovision Song Contest with a vanilla rendition are gone, with every recent competition winner having had a money shot – a moment that stays with viewers until the time comes for the voting to occur. Take note of the ‘performers’.
Tip 3. Rehearsal blogs provide vital insight
The easiest – and cheapest – way to get a decent handle on how the 40+ Eurovision Song Contest entries will perform is to search the Internet for the rehearsal blogs posted by the competition’s most fervent fans. There are some Eurovision Song Contest tragics who arrive in the host city two weeks before the final and spend most of their days watching the rehearsals inside the main arena. If one can sort the wheat from the chaff – the comments of bloggers should be taken with a liberal pinch of salt – it is possible to identify both overpriced and underpriced songs, which is particularly helpful in head-to-head and other Eurovision Song Contest betting markets that are not all about the overall winner.
Tip 4. Late draw is best draw
Opinion is divided as to the impact of the Eurovision Song Contest draw but anyone who thinks that the order does not matter is kidding himself or herself. From 2003 to 2012 inclusive, the average draw of the Eurovision Song Contest winner was 16.9 and none of the last eight champions have been among the first 16 acts to perform. To put it bluntly, the best draws are the ones in the final third of the show.
Tip 5. Geopolitics matter most
There is no avoiding it: anyone betting on the Eurovision Song Contest needs to understand geopolitics because bloc voting has been rampant since the competition grew in the 1990s thanks to the break up of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. One British academic, the University of Surrey’s Derek Gatherer, went as far as to write a paper on it.
In his 2006 article, Gatherer concluded that five major partnerships existed and even gave them names:
- Balkan Bloc – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey
- Partial Benelux – Belgium and the Netherlands
- Pyrenean Axis – Andorra and Spain
- Viking Empire – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden
- Warsaw Pact – Poland, Russia and Ukraine
Only two of the last 14 Eurovision Song Contest winners have come from outside the five groups identified by Gatherer and one could argue that 2011 champion Azerbaijan is part of a new one given that is a former Soviet state that became a competitor only in 2008 and has not finished lower than eighth. Most countries would love such a fine record.