This article is a collaboration with ESCPlus. ESCPlus is one of the well established Eurovision community sites and hosts the fantastic ESC Plus player which is perfect for Eurovision fans and punters to keep tabs on multiple National Finals at the same time. For Benidorm Fest ESCPlus are hoping to create a poll of the journalists following the rehearsals inside the arena.
Benidorm Fest is one of the most difficult betting markets of all the National Finals.
This year sees us have the third edition of Benidorm Fest, and in terms of gambling it has been the National Final that has most thrown up surprises. Chanel and ‘SloMo’ were one of the big outsiders in the run up to the first Benidorm Fest edition, and Blanca Paloma was equally a surprise during last year’s show.
It was the live performance of both of these tracks that lifted up what were comparatively flat and unemotive studio tracks to be some of the most powerful and impressive bits of Eurovision, at both its pop-music and cultural extremes, that we have seen this century.
This is what makes predicting and making money on Benidorm Fest before the show kicks off as an incredibly difficult task. Not only is the attention-to-detail with staging at Benidorm Fest up there with the very best in the business, but these performances are also deeply protected. I happened to be a journalist at Benidorm Fest last year and journalists were allowed to comment on acts from a good/bad perspective but details about anything in the performances were to be kept completely secret.
This is one of the reasons behind why the Benidorm Fest 2024 appears to be one of the most open of this National Final season - past form suggests a winner could come out of anywhere!
Sofia Coll’s ‘Here To Stay’ starts off as the favourite (best priced 4.0). ‘Here To Stay’ is written for the Eurovision stage and is probably the song we can most easily imagine bringing the house down. The cheeky English lyrics can add to the charm, but much will depend on if Sofia’s delivery bridges the boundary between a number that is fun and can still be professionally acceptable.
At this point a reminder that, for all intents and purposes, Benidorm Fest is 75% jury voting. Yes we know that accurately saying there is a professional jury worth 50% of the votes and then the demoscopic jury gives 25% of the points, but this definitely skews in mentality towards the mindset of a jury more than the televote. However this set up also has influence over the televote. Voting numbers in Benidorm Fest are very low (Blanca Paloma won with less than 10,000 votes last year), meaning that the televoting is only really engaged with by a hardcore fanbase, as there’s little sentiment for more casual viewers to part with their money to vote for their favourite.
This swing towards Benidorm Fest being a show that skews towards the jury is part of the explanation for St. Pedro’s rise in the odds (Betway, 4.5). The comparison’s to Salvador Sobral are too easy to do, but there is a certain gentle charm that this song possesses that we can imagine being a magnet for juries. The one key difference about this track to Portugal’s landslide victory in 2017 is that there’s little space in the flow of the music for the singer to emote. This is one in contention but to do so space is going to need to be given to let him emote to the story, rather than fly by like wallpaper.
Bizarrely I actually have the same question mark about Almácor with ‘Brillos Platina’ (Betway, 5.0). The complete opposite to St. Pedro in terms of music genre, this pop track in studio has the problem of staying in its lane too much and being too clean, too polished, and too unemotive. It is catchy as anything and well produced, so has all of that going for it, but there needs to be a call to action to bring this to the top of a juror’s selection. I do note the decision to have sing last in the Benidorm Fest 2nd Semi Final, which accurately or not does make me suspect something could be there.
It’s difficult to argue for anybody to be placing bets on any of the favourites as it is currently, too much is unknown, the field too flat, the jury too random, for there to be value on any of the favourites. Instead one is better off pitching a small bet on one of the outsiders that has potential to pick up jury support. Marlena’s ‘Amor de Verano’ gives me those vibes - this is a catchy number that can get under the skin and could go down a storm inside the hall at Benidorm Fest. A small bet investment here is sensible, gambling on this connecting with the jurors.
But whatever we have that ends up winning, the betting markets suggest it would be unlikely that Spain will be coming close to the victory. Spain has traded over 100 on the Betfair Exchange in the past week, whereas the nation was around 30s before the song’s were revealed. Of those three favourites I mentioned there would only be one that I believe can go all the way and that would be St. Pedro. That would be a difficult path to get all the way to Eurovision winning contention, but there is a way his composure could make it the kind of number that juries and televotes both are appealed by at Eurovision