Hello Dear Readers!
Sorry for the delay! It has been a crazy few months (including getting involved in politics, improv comedy, and joining a new research lab). And, worst of all, I will not be able to go to Eurovision this year 😦
ANYWAY – all of that to say, we’re getting back on track, slowly. First, I want to complete the series “Eurovision: More than just…” before the March deadline for all the final versions of the entries to be submitted. After that, we’ll have the same regular posts – the Danish Melodi Grand Prix, the weeklong series on all 43 entries, then various other posts, and a return of the live notes! I will making live notes about the Contest as I watch the semi-finals and Grand Final.
Additionally, I will be taking part on a new initiative, an online magazine dedicated to Eurovision! More details on that as more become available. However, ESC Obsession will be continuing on 🙂
Thank you for your patience and understanding, dear readers, I look forward to many more Eurovisions with you all!
Hello Dear Readers!
The 2016 Contest brought with it a new points format. The jury and televotes would no longer be combined on the country-level, as they had been since 2009, but each would be totaled individually before being combined to achieve the final results. While this reduces the bolstering of the middle-placed songs we saw under the previous system, it puts small countries that lack the population to support a televote at a disadvantage. In 2016, San Marino, a country of just 32,500 (fewer than the nearly 38,000 that attended Eurovision in 2001), which has historically always used 100% jury votes due to its small size required a televote in order for the new system to work. The solution? Create a composite score using a selection of countries (a list which has not been revealed) that stands in as San Marino’s televote. The EBU told us that this was to be employed if any country lacked either a jury or televote. San Marino is the only one for which this procedure was used. Understandably, the Sammarinese broadcaster, SMRTV, is not satisfied with this arrangement and has supposedly created a proposal to resolve this situation. How the EBU proceeds could be an influencing factor for how other small countries to continue participation (such as Albania and Moldova, both often use 100% jury as well in the past) and for others to return (such as Luxembourg, who is starting to see renewed fan interest in returning).
While we don’t know SMRTV’s exact proposal, which I have dubbed the #SanMarinoPlan, there are three likely avenues which SMRTV will pursue.
Have Digame, the televoting partner, craft a new algorithm for smaller countries.
Right now, televoting depends on a certain raw number of votes to be certified. San Marino, with its modest population, just can’t reach the necessary threshold. However, San Marino has its own area code that differentiates it from Italy (0549), so it would be very easy to determine who is calling SMRTV’s numbers from San Marino. Whatever the current algorithm is for determining a statistically strong televote could be readily modified to fit a smaller scale. What makes this proposal difficult is that, with a smaller televote threshold, San Marino opens itself up to vote manipulation – a group could sponsor a bunch of folks to cross the border and use Sammarinese cell phones to vote for a particular country.
Allow San Marino to create a second jury of non-professionals to create a televote.
SMRTV could gather a selection of citizens or hold official watch parties in the City of San Marino, Dogana, Domagnano, and/or other major population centers where they can collect votes and use those for their televote. It is incredibly easy to have people attend an event and cast ballots, collect these votes, and report the final results to the EBU. The biggest challenge with this proposal would be the increased cost to SMRTV. Hosing these events would cost money and they would need to have two (one for the semi-final and one for the Grand Final) in each chosen city. SMRTV would have the added difficulty of gathering fans (the largest cities only have a few thousand residents) and volunteers, as San Marino lacks its own OGAE (though, I’d gladly attend and host an event as a member of OGAE Rest of the World – we support San Marino and all the countries without their own OGAE).
Create a system in which viewers in non-participating countries can vote to create stand-in televoting scores
The easiest way to reach the threshold would be to expand those eligible to vote through creating a portal through which those with IP addresses in a nonparticipating country could vote online/through the app. This would allow the EBU to have interactivity opportunities with new markets (like the US or China) without letting them participate. Depending on the popularity of this, they can institute it as some kind of back up televoting for all the countries that may need it (by randomly dividing received votes across all the countries that need a televote stand-in). The biggest difficulty, of course, is the vulnerability to being tampered with. More than that, though, it hurts the EBU’s chances for getting Luxembourg, Turkey, and other former competitors to return, as there would now be a way for interested fans to stay engaged without those broadcasters having to participate.
Personally, I think option two (SMRTV hosting viewing parties across San Marino) is the best choice. It engages fans with the Contest and ensures that the televotes are coming from within the country, reflecting the will of the Sammarinese public. However, the most realistic option would be to open voting to non-participating countries. This would allow the EBU to replace any country’s televote as needed (through randomizing the received votes). Additionally, it has the added bonus of engaging fans in countries not participating in the Contest without expanding the boundaries of the ESC. Now viewers in the US, Canada, Mexico, China, South Africa, etc., would be able to engage in the Contest on the same level as Europeans (and Australians) and the ESC would not have to allow those countries to compete. Furthermore, this can be facilitated through the official ESC app and would not significantly increase the cost to the EBU or require an in-country telephone partner.
What about the reverse situation? What if a country loses its jury vote?
Currently, the only solution for the loss of a jury vote is the composite scoring process detailed above. However, this is a more acceptable solution for this situation. The reason for the jury vote is to provide the perspective of music professionals to counterbalance the televote. It would be much harder to have a reserve of jurors in the event that a jury vote is nullified. Additionally, just as the EBU cannot duplicate the jury votes to generate a televote, it cannot duplicate the televote to achieve a jury vote. Nor can the EBU just discount the 58 points, as the new system is dependent upon an equal number of points in the juries and televotes.
Thoughts? Comments? Do you think any of these three plans would work? Do you have a different idea for what the #SanMarinoPlan could be?
Hello Dear Readers!
So, I realized that I did not address the voting change to the ESC announced in February and, figuring that I want to help you make the Contest easier for others to understand, I thought that I would give a handy explanation of the changes.
What is NOT changing:
- The results will still be 50% voting and 50% juries. (Semi-final qualifiers and the winner are decided by combining the results of televoting – the votes of those viewing at home – and professional juries)
- Final jury results will still be determined by combining the the full rankings of each juror and awarding points to the top ten.
- Countries will still call in their votes in a predetermined order based on the results of the juries.
- Televoting – via phones and SMS – will still be collected in a 15 minute interval during the show and will determine fifty percent of the final scores’ value.
What IS changing:
- Instead of combining the a country’s jury votes and televoting, they will remain separate. This means that, effectively, each country is handing out points twice: to the top ten countries in the jury’s ranking AND the top ten countries in the televoting.
- The points being announced by each country will be purely from the juries. This is being done for several reasons.
- It means that the interval act can be shorter because the jury votes can be read while the televotes are calculated, cutting down the length of the show in hopes of returning it to the appropriated three hour running time.
- Since 2011, an algorithm (or formula) for determining the order of how countries gave their votes has been in place based on the results of the juries. This algorithm is designed to give the voting sequence maximum suspense and excitement.
- The televoting from all the countries will be combined and revealed en masse after the jury votes are given. They will be given in ascending order, so the country with the fewest points will be read first all the way through the country receiving the most points.
- This makes the voting sequence more exciting because we’ll see countries fall back down the scoreboard only to rise back up.
- This makes it much harder to predict the winner before voting is over.
- There will now be twice as many points available, essentially setting up all the old point total records to be shattered. This year, with 42 participants, there will be a total of 4,872 points available (as compared to only 2,494 last year under the previous system).
The biggest issue that people dislike is that the juries’ votes are being read as opposed to the televoting public’s votes. But, as mentioned above, the jury votes are already collected, so having them be the ones read for each country makes more sense from a practical, time-saving point of view.
The bigger question is what happens when either jury or televoting results are unavailable? We all know that some countries rely 100% on jury votes for assigning points (such as San Marino, which lacks the infrastructure to collect televotes). Others are forced to do this if there are irregularities found with their televoting (such as Moldova which often has issues getting enough people to televote). Conversely, some jury results are disqualified when their results appear to be suspect (as has happened with Azerbaijan and Macedonia in previous years). The new voting procedure indicates that an assortment of countries will be used to create a stand-in score for the missing points. How this amalgam score will be calculated, in terms of how stand-in countries will be determined and how many there will be, has yet to be revealed.
Additionally, information about tie-break procedures has yet to be released (as far as I know). Previously, in breaking a tie, the country with the higher total number of countries voting for it would be higher, after that, it was the country with more 12s, then 10s, etc. all the way down to 1s. For semi-finals, if there was still a tie at this point, the one performing earlier in the running order would move through. For the Grand Final, a tie would be declared. Under the new system, would the total number of countries be counted for each jury and televoting, or just total overall? When doing the countbacks (counting the number of 12s, 10s, 8s, etc.), is it by televoting or juries – or both? Will there be a new level added before a tie is declared (or we turn to the producer-determined running order, in the case of semi-finals) that gives the nod to the country with a higher televoting score? or jury score? This needs to be cleared up and publicized BEFORE the Contest. Time is running out EBU.
Overall, this is not a change to be afraid of. If you’re concerned or want to dive into the numbers, I point you to ESC Insight, were they break down the effects of the new system using numbers from past Contests. I look forward to seeing how the voting sequence will look this year!
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