Friday, 1 May 2009

What about the voting on Eurovision night?

PB2 Guest Slot by Ewan Spence

May 16th will see BBC1 air the annual Eurovision Song Contest, and with a number of betting markets available, it could provide an interesting little challenge for the readers of Political Betting. It's not just a single event, but two weeks of rehearsals, practice and news coming out of the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, along with three live concerts broadcast around the world... all that provides lots of impact on the markets.

Eurovision has two semi-finals (May 12th and May 14th) as well as the Grand Final on Saturday May 16th. Betfair is offering markets in each concert, with a winners market, top three finishers (in the semi final, top four in the final) and placing in the top ten of the final, and the ten countries to qualify from each semi final. Ladbrokes have a winning entry market, offering a top 4 (each way) option on the final results only.

The two semi finals have 18 and 19 countries respectively (Georgia withdraw at a late stage for political reasons). After all the songs are performed,a phone vote of the countries in that semi-final, plus the United Kingdom and Germany in the first semi final, and Russia, Spain and France in the second semi-final, will take place. The top nine countries in each vote will qualify. In addition to this, a jury vote also takes place, and the highest country in the jury vote that has not yet qualified takes the tenth place in the Grand Final.

The public vote and jury selection are not revealed until after the contest is over on Saturday night.

This year sees a big change in the voting in the final. In a bid to head of the political block voting (neighbouring countries sharing musical tastes and thus sharing votes) and disapora voting (immigrants voting for their home country), a jury of music industry professionals will vote in each country and make up 50% of the final weighting. After the phone votes close, those votes are ranked and the countries are awarded the traditional 12, 10 , 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 points. The jury rankings then also score the 12, 10 , 8-1 points and the two are added together. This gives the overall score and decides who gets the announced Douze Points and so forth that is read out. Tie breakers will give precedence to the public vote.

Once the performers gather in Moscow, the rehearsals start on Monday 4th May and the markets will start to change as information comes out of the Olympic Stadium. As well as watching the main Eurovision site ( two fan sites are also worth bookmarking for up to date information, namely Eurovision Today ( and The Eurovision Blog ( to help you get ahead. There are also countless opinion polls on fan sites, all of which can help you gain information and a feel for the market. (and I'll be doing online video reports from May 9th once I arrive in Moscow,

In Western Europe there is a disconnect between songs that are popular with the fans, and the actual results, and it's in this gap that savvy punters will be able to find value. Last year the fan boards were convinced that Sweden, on the strength of the song, was on to a high scoring place. In fact the performance bombed both in the semi-final and final with the voting public. The fans are not always right.

While there are a number of markets on Betfair, and Ladbrokes are running a winners market (with each way option for the top 4 places), most of the cash (currently £310,000 on Betfair) is sitting in the “to win” market, and I'd recommend playing there, especially while the semi-finals are on air. As songs come and go, there will be movement in all directions.

This year's favourite is Norway, with 15 year old Alexander Rybeck. Being born in Belarus, and a song unashamedly appealing to Eastern Europe, it has a lot of cross border appeal and performed exceptionally well in the Norwegian selection final, although it is rare for a favourite in Eurovision to actually win.
My value bet would be Hadise's Dum-Tek-Tek from Turkey. It might seem reminiscent of previous Turkish winners, but it's a female vocalist, with a hint of ethnic rhythm and Beyonce which should do very well. There's strong support also for Sakis Rova's Greek entry, but while he may be returning to the Eurovision stage I don't see this song performing particularly well in the Grand final, even with, but it's sure to get out of the first semi-final.

What to make of the British entry, Jade Ewen? It's certainly not winning any good publicity in the UK, but seeing as we're not allowed to vote for it, that doesn't matter. With Andrew Lloyd Webber confirmed as appearing on stage during the live performance, the song is sure to impress the juries, which have 50% of the voting in each country this year. And while we might bemoan the repetitive lyrics, the majority of people who are listening with English as a second language will clearly get the chorus and help make the song memorable. Jade and Lloyd Webber have been touring Europe promoting the song and insisting on singing live at all the events – and that's gained her a lot of respect. Is it a winning song? I still have my doubts, but a top ten placing is very likely, and an each way / top four finish could prove a wise investment.

While Eurovision is seen as a camp cabaret in the UK by many, it is taken deadly seriously on the continent, and there is money out there for the smart better. With the UK Election markets ticking over (for the moment) this is a great chance to flex your betting muscles and skills in a fast moving market that wraps up and pays out in the middle of May this year – rather than leaving it until maybe June 10th next year!

Full round-up of Eurovision betting markets.

Ewan Spence


Anonymous said...

The songs that I liked are Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Belgium and Poland. Favourites rarely win and the Norwegian entry is a bit OTT in my opinion. The new voting system of 50% votes from a Jury comprising professional musicians should cut down on the neighbour voting we have seen in the past few years. UK should be much better than before.

Scott P said...

Thanks for a very informative piece. I have a long odds position on the British entry in the hope it will shorten and I can lay at a profit on the day...

Ewan Spence said...

Given that the last UK entry to make a decent stab of it was in 2002, and since then all teh acts combined haven't scored as much as Jessica Garlic in '02, there's every chance we'll be better than recent years!

Scott, indeed there is a lot of scope for laying profit this year. After the news of Dita Von Tease being the 'burlesque dancer' on stage with Germany, they might be worth picking up long till the drop to around 10/1.

Stuart Dickson said...

Sweden roolz!!

Malena Ernman will erase the Charlotte Perrelli fiasco of last year.

sunonmars said...

Sorry to be a pain but Alexander Rybak is not 15, you have to be 16 to legally be in the contest, he is actually 23. You might want to amend that.

Red Meteor said...

I can't see Turkey winning, and I actually think Greece will go close. It's a not-much-above-average song but the same was true for Greece last year, and also on the other occasion Sakis Rouvas was their entry, and both times they finished twice. For my money the Swedish song is absolutely atrocious, but maybe I just don't get it.

If there was any justice in this world it'd be Iceland or Andorra, but both western European countries, so not a prayer. I also like Estonia.

Red Meteor said...

I must learn to proofread - what I meant to say was "both times Greece finished third".

Me said...

Is the main site down?

Anonymous said...

Originally posted on Main PB site on 2 May 2009:
Until I saw her this evening on the Jonathan Woss show with Andrew Lloyd Webber, I had never previously heard of Jade Ewen (?sp), who is to sing the UK’s entry in this year’s upcoming competition, when apparently the judging composition arrangements have been altered to prevent the usual high incidence of mutual back-scratching especially, but not exclusively, between Eastern European entrants, which has made the contest such a farce over recent years - little wonder that Sir Terence has jacked it.
Ms Ewen certainly has a belter of a voice and although the song isn’t the greatest ever, it’s passable and probably worthy of a top 5 finish, providing the judging is indeed fairer.
The betting opportunity which caught my eye is one offered by SkyBet and one other bookie, based on which of the “Big Four Country” entrants will finish highest placed. I assume that the term “Big Four” refers to those countries who actually pay for the wretched thing every year, only to find their entries invariably stuffed near the bottom of the results table. These four countries comprise the UK, France, Spain and Germany.
The UK is priced at 1.75/1 with SkyBet to win this mini group. Not bad value you may think given our stronger entry this year, enhanced by a 20 day promotional tour around Europe by the aforementioned Jade. What also appeals is that Germany and France are respectively the bookies’ favourite and second favourite to finish plumb bottom of the entire contest, on which basis we should only have Spain to worry about.
No guarantees here, but this looks like a very promising bet at 1.75/1 for a bit of fun to modest stakes. Go for it Jade!

I've also backed her to come in the first 10 with Betfair at just over evens - great value imho.

Peter from Putney.

Anonymous said...

PARTY LEADERS:This market is like a boxing match where you have Backed your man(G.Brown) to go the distance.If you have gone for Brown/Cameron and the kid goes the twelve rounds you collect.
Old 'Clunking Fist' was knocked down and groggy in the sixth but picked himself off the floor and came back fighting.
He took some heavy blows in the eighth and as the bell goes for the ninth it is looking touch and go.
If the narrative metaphor is 'boxing',the betting metaphor is 'table-tennis'.It goes back and forth with every headline.Saturday and Sunday were shockers for the beleagured bruiser but Monday was better.
Nobody knows who will win the game.....not even Lord Mandelson....certainly not me !


Anonymous said...

Apologies for posting here.The main site deemed the above post to be spam and I don't know why.


by Ewan Spence said...


Very much so, and the addition of a musical Jury for 50% of the vote and ALW makes a Top Ten achieveable in my book. The "Big Four Out On top" is an intersting one. I'd be happy to do an article on this, but my gut feel here is Germany, with the addition of Burlesque Dancer Dita Von Tease will score very highly, even though they have a rubbish slot in the running order.

The running order can have a big effect on the Eurovision winner, expect a lot of market movement when the draw is made on Friday 15th. Germany and France are locked into the first half, while britian runs 23rd of 25, and Spain is in the coveted final slot (which lifted Norway to 5th last year on a standard female ballad)

Ave it 09 said...

Con gain Eurovision!

James Burdett said...

Is the main site down?

Icarus said...

Main Site down

Speaker was unbelievable -who is running the show?

Sean Thomas said...

Site down again. This gets tiresome. What's the point in remaking the site if it still can't handle the traffic?


Anonymous said...

It seems that the main site is down yet again - oh dear, just when we thought the recent changes had sorted out all the problems.
Doesn't augur well for Election night!
Peter from Putney

SallyC said...

I can't get through on the main site but I see I must be the only one.

Philip said...

Can't get onto the main site, is it down?

Anonymous said...

Is the main site down? Have been unable to access it for about 2 hours but no comments here?