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How Covid-19 Will Change Eurovision Betting

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

As myself and Jenko had a podcast chat about Covid-19, I thought that I’d share some of our notes for that podcast in a quick article.

To listen to that podcast, the final one of our introductory series, check out “Covid-19 and the Eurovision Song Contest” on our website link:

Looking forward to 2021 we know that, no matter what, the EBU plans to hold a Eurovision Song Contest. How that Song Contest will look though we do not know. Four scenarios have been revealed, with scenario A being near to normal and scenario D involving pre-recorded performances in each broadcaster’s home country. The scenarios in the middle may involve some countries travelling and some not, or a small audience in the arena.

It is pure speculation how all of these factors will play out in terms of voting, making this year’s contest possibly one of the most risky to invest in. While Covid-19 is still spreading rapidly through much of Europe, even with vaccinations beginning it seems hard to imagine a full on Eurovision show being possible in just four months time, or realistically in two months time when decisions will need to be made.

We therefore expect a smaller visual production - at least in terms of an audience being present, which instinctively suggests that crowd-pleasing songs may appear lost and lose connection with the audience at home. So much is just a hypothesis at this stage however.

At the moment as the days continue into a dark January the EBU's scenario D, the stay-at-home worst case scenario, looks more and more likely. We saw this at Junior Eurovision in November with most acts performing in their home country. While the EBU are setting rules about how this can be managed (e.g. each act will get three attempts to perform in their pre-record), do not expect this to help make the Eurovision Song Contest an equal playing field - the gulf in visual production between some nations and others will only widen without a host broadcaster’s team helping out. Look out for the big broadcasters pulling out some creative and effective stagings in this scenario, even more than usual. However as punters we may be in the dark much more, relying on social media rather than rehearsal footage to try and work out good or bad and right and wrong, leaving a betting market very cautious. Time will tell.

What is worth noting in the rules is that backing vocals are allowed on tape for the 2021 contest, although lead singing must be done live. That’s going to reduce the chance of a bad vocal messing up your performance, removing one risk factor from the betting market.

The one comment worth sharing after Junior Eurovision is, after France’s victory, that many of the comments I saw online were those grateful for France to have won with such a joyous song in these dark times. I half suspect that will continue in May - and that Eurovision songs offering a bit of escapism might be appreciated if the world is still on its hands and knees from this pandemic.

I am sure we will see songs as well that try and address the state of the world today in a sombre light as well. So much can work, but it will be difficult to achieve - especially noting how the mood in one country can be vastly different than others.

Before all of that though we have National Final season - which will be a good proxy to see if some styles of songs and performance resonate better in this new era. In many of these National Finals, such as in Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia, the 2020 artist is back for a second attempt. I suspect the sympathy vote effect will be bigger than many want to believe and all three could easily send the same act again. I especially think The Mamas are undervalued in the Melodifestivalen market at the current time - they may not score well with Eurovision experts and commentators on the whole, but their televote last year was plenty big enough across all age ranges and they are likely going to deliver that feel-good vibe which will be what the public want to hear.

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