Welcome back to beteurovision.com, the home of the Bet Eurovision podcast. Our first episode is now available (link to Spotify is here, or the RSS feed is on this link) which serves as a preview to where we are in the world of Eurovision gambling today.
The podcast once more will be the majority of our Bet Eurovision output for the season, and we are aiming for Thursday morning publications all through National Final season.
There is so much to chew through in the Eurovision world today and this first podcast is only going to touch the surface of everything that is going on. Already in 2023 have we seen a total of nine different countries match at 10.0 or less on the Betfair Exchange. Yes, a couple of those are fat finger syndrome on the Exchange (inadvertently placed bets at short odds), but there is so much to think about with this season’s Eurovision Song Contest we have a very nervy early season betting market. There is so much more to consider this year already.
We have to start this by mentioning Israel (current Betfair back/lay prices 13.5/14). Nearly half of the roughly £10,000 matched on the Betfair Exchange has been on Israeli success in Malmö, and saw the war-torn state move to favourites in the days following the October 7th massacre, matching as low as 4.0, before steadily moving out and hovering around 10.0 for the past month or so.
Of course, in considering Israel at this stage (without a song or artist) we are looking purely at the possible geopolitical ramifications of the conflict impacting upon their chances of winning. At the most basic level, it is likely that Israel will be in some way shape and form dominating the headlines in May, and with that there will be some jurors and televoters wanting to support the nation by voting for them. There's a nuance way above my pay scale as to how positive that sentiment will be then, and today (remember, you can only vote for a nation in Eurovision, not against), but Israel is going to be fairly short in the market until we know more about the conflict’s progress and the act in question. At this point it's worth thinking more about the betting market being one of risk, rather than one of prediction, so early in the season.
Some remarks about all of this that we need to be wary of. Not only is the most vocal part of the Eurovision community staunchly in favour of excluding Israel from next year’s Contest, some of Eurovision-specific content from the Israeli broadcaster or from representatives of the nation internationally (such as that from the Israeli embassy in the United Kingdom) are overly divisive and alienating to members in the fan community. We are all well aware of the importance of Eurovision for the soft power of Israel as a part of Europe, and I suspect we will see a much more concerted effort into making amends there and pulling on heartstrings. Look out for some lyrics attempting to tug on Europe's heartstrings here.
One thing I do underestimate though is Israeli insistence to run Rising Star as their selection process for Eurovision this year. War meant a blank slate could be applied to how they choose their Eurovision entrant, instead they ploughed back on with Rising Star at the earliest possible opportunity. This is not the time for Israel to be represented by a fresh new talent without media training, and I still hold the thought in my mind that something else could come at the end of their selection journey. I think it is sensible for all traders to ‘war room’ for a scenario where Israel randomly decides to send a new experienced name (let's say Noa Kirel once more), and where Israel would sit in the odds in that world. Just in case.
Also, just in case, make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions of any bets placed on Israel. With the trickles now of fan clubs and mainstream media bringing up the issue of Israeli participation, and the sensitivity of Israeli security in Malmö, there is a non-zero chance that an events chain kicks off leading to Israeli withdrawal/disqualification. The largest price for Israel is on the Betfair Exchange, but all bets placed on Israel winning via the Betfair Exchange will be marked as a loss if they do not take part, yet some high street bookies will have non-runner rules in place. For what it is worth I consider that opportunity very low, but worth just being aware of.
Prior to Israel's appearance at the top of the betting odds it was Ukraine (current Exchange price 13/17.5) that held that position. While the Israeli conflict situation is dominating Ukraine’s position in the news, we know that Russia still occupies much of Ukrainian territory and there is support out there for Ukraine still across Europe. We know Vidbir will select the Ukrainian entry, although we haven’t heard all the competing songs at the time of writing.
There’s a lot less discussion about Ukraine but a 3rd place in the Junior Eurovision online vote (with a song I dare say shouldn’t be anywhere close enough to be there) is enough for me to keep plenty of caution on Ukraine, like the rest of the market does. Both Israel and Ukraine are a touch longer odds now than they were earlier in the season, in a world of conflict the desires of the continent could be to look for something that escapes from all of it, as both of those nations compete for any remaining sympathy across Europe’s shores.
Sweden and Italy (both 14.5/15) have matched briefly under 10s and their historical successes from Melodifestivalen and Sanremo are worth having them short at the start of every season. Of these two without political backstory I would be far hotter on Sanremo than Melodifestivalen, Sanremo trumps for artist name appeal, more televote track record and a Eurovision year not distracted by hosting which will split the focus from SVT.
However they were both overtaken in the Eurovision betting markets by the announcement that Olly Alexander would represent the United Kingdom (9.2/9.4). Now I’ve written some long form views about the BBC’s move to the top of the betting odds on ESC Insight, but for the purpose of this article let me say that what I’m most excited about is the songwriter, Danny L Harle, who is exactly the type of contemporary songwriter you want to be writing a Eurovision entry for the UK in Sweden in 2024. I’m less keen on Olly Alexander as an artist, though he attracts the big attention and big production which will follow, and I will echo others in questioning him as a live performer against somebody like Sam Ryder.
The UK is though in my opinion too short to be favourite to win Eurovision at this time. While Olly has name appeal at this stage, in a 26 song field I suspect he may be overshadowed by others, and I believe he is more in Eurovision for relaunching his career than aiming for victory. The UK should be one of the favourites, not THE favourite.
And, in the midst of all this drama at the top of the odds, we also have three songs that have been revealed before the New Year. Short and sweet on Albania (170/980), which is going to rely on a favourable draw in the Semi Final Allocation Draw to gather the diaspora alongside to stutter into a Grand Final place.
Czechia (200/590) selected early the song ‘Pedestal’ which is something that I really like musically, but I’m far from convinced that there is a call to action to vote for this song and it will need plenty of time to work on staging, outfits, vocals and the all-round aesthetic to turn it into a vote-winning package. Qualifying depends on the draw at this early stage, it needs to be in a weak semi final to flourish unless there are big changes.
Finally the big buzz was about Slimane (an artist who is on the same scale of Olly Alexander for domestic hype) being internally selected for France (40/55) and then also revealing the song months before the EBU deadline. ‘Mon Amour’ is, sadly, too Eurovision for its own good. It spits out the emotion in all the right places and has a very secure vocal attached to it. However it feels a touch soulless and Slimane doesn’t appear the most televoting friendly of characters based on the music video presentation. I think there is a chance for the OGAE fans to get behind this in the build up to Malmö (much like La Zarra saw), and I am anticipating some hype for this from Eurovision fans around April time, when we can compare it to others on an equal playing field.
I think this is a solid top 10 prediction with some strong jury scoring up for grabs. If France's price to win Eurovision continues to drift there is a chance for some top 10 value to appear with the bookies on this one. We also could be seeing another overrated French entry in the fan community appearing with this one, and traders should be aware of that and either be comfortable with a red position or find a time pre March to buy in.
All of this brings us just about back in tune with the start of the new Bet Eurovision season. As we return to January normality we also return to the world of National Finals and the road to Malmö being discussed each week as we get closer and closer to all 37 songs being known, and the eventual winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. Make sure you are ready to listen along.
Links once more to the Spotify page and the RSS feed are here: