Eurovision Song Contest promises 'TV magic' by changing its voting system - here's everything you need to know
Published 18/02/2016 | 12:36
The Eurovision Song Contest is promising "TV magic" after announcing the competition's most radical voting change since 1975.
What are the changes?
For 2016, the voting results of the professional jury will be presented separately from those of the public vote. Previously, the score a country is awarded for their Eurovision entry was a 50/50 combination of both the jury and the public vote, with viewers only finding out the public voting breakdown the day after by looking online.
However, this change will reveal a country's Eurovision allegiances live on air during the course of the competition.
To provide even more tension at the end of the night, the public and jury will be able to grant an extra set of points – either the top two scores of 12 or 10, or a number of points between one and eight – for their favourite 10 entries.
So what will the changes mean?
With the top 10 countries from both the jury and public vote getting the opportunity to receive even more points, the result could change at the last minute.
Eurovision expert Charlotte Runcie explains that the new rules will change the way the results are broadcast, too: "Each country’s spokesperson (the people they get to announce the votes live, eg, Nigella Lawson who did it for the UK last year) announces only the jury points.
Then the hosts of the show back in the arena announce the separate televote scores for each country’s 10 highest-ranked acts, revealing the combined score for each country in order from last to first."
Audiences will have to watch until the bitter end to see the entries' results announced in reverse order, presumably with accompanying glitter cannons.
Why has Eurovision done this?
In theory, it's to make it more exciting. Organisers say the move will keep viewers on their seats until the very end of the results, instead of knowing who is the likely winner 20 minutes before the last country has revealed their voting.
In recent years, runaway winners such as Austria's Conchita Wurst in 2014, have been declared the victors before all of the countries have announced their points. This new system will ensure that the winner is only known right at the end of the show.
Martin Österdahl, Executive Producer for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest explained, “In previous years the winner has been known for up to 20 minutes before the end of voting and that’s not good TV. This format change will inject a new level of excitement into the finish of the Eurovision Song Contest”.
Wasn't there an outcry of voting last year?
Within Eurovision circles, yes. In 2015, it became clear after the show that Italy clearly won the televote but didn’t win overall because the jury votes had marked them down. Runcie says: "It’s interesting that the jury voting was introduced in 2009 partly to stop 'bloc voting' which was considered a disadvantage to Western European nations, but last year the jury votes actually stopped Italy from winning." Instead, Sweden ran away with the winning vote.
So points are being announced twice: will the show go on forever?
You'll probably have to stage a longer Eurovision Song Contest party, yes. But, says Runcie, the rules should enliven the notoriously dull results segment: "It will probably make the announcement of the results even longer than in previous years, and it’s already a part of the show that struggles to hold viewers’ attention.
"But it is interesting to see the difference between jury votes and televotes, and does keep the suspense going longer. It’ll be an experiment as to whether it works as entertainment, anyway – do people really care about the intricacies of the voting system being discussed as part of the show?"
Does this mean some countries may never get nul points again?
There is some speculation that, even under the new system, Electro Velvet would still have suffered the same embarrassment last year. But until we properly figure out the maths, let's look to the future.
Runcie says: "Because, theoretically, there are twice as many points available to be awarded, there is less chance of getting no points at all."
And what about the juries?
Well, intriguingly, the juries will be casting their votes on different performances to those the public award points for. Runcie explains: "The juries don’t see the same performances that we do.
"There’s a separate 'jury final' run-through of the entire show the day before which is effectively a dress rehearsal, watched by the juries but not broadcast."
If, on the night, there's a major discrepancy between the jury's vote and the public vote, it may not be down to political allegiances, but the fact that the entry had given a worse performance during the dress rehearsals.