Editorials & Opinion

Analysing eleven years of Eurovision odds: An indicator more reliable than ever before

This is an updated version of an article published in March 2017

In recent years, I’ve perhaps had a slightly unhealthy obsession with Eurovision odds and continue to do so. I often believe that they can’t be that wrong when it comes to the results at Eurovision itself. In the weeks before their respective contests, I was convinced France had it in the bag in 2011, Armenia the same in 2014, Russia in 2016 and Italy in 2017. They were all such strong favourites that surely they would follow in the footsteps of other strong favourites such as Alexander Rybak and Loreen? Nevertheless, this didn’t turn out to be the case.


Are odds really a good indicator of the eventual results?

For many fans, betting odds are considered the most important ranking when it comes to predicting where entries will finish in May. Fan forum rankings or YouTube views can always be skewed by either the often atypical taste of Eurovision fans or the size of the populations of the participating countries. Yet, with odds, people have to put their money where their mouth is. They have to think with their head rather than follow their heart.

To discover how good an indicator betting odds really have been in predicting Eurovision successes prior to action kicking off at rehearsals, we are about to take a look back at the last eleven years of betting odds which are as far back as buzzjack.com‘s odds archive goes. For each contest, we’ve used recordings of odds from approximately a month before the contest. This is ideal as it doesn’t take into account the effect of rehearsals on odds. However, people will have had weeks to get to know all the entries and make logical predictions.

HELSINKI 2007

Firstly, let’s look back at the odds ahead of the 2007 contest in Helsinki. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 16th, 26 days before the final on May 12th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 5/1 🇨🇭 Switzerland DJ Bobo – Vampires Are Alive SF (20th)
2 7/1 🇸🇪 Sweden The Ark – The Worrying Kind 18th
3 8/1 🇷🇸 Serbia Marija Šerifović – Molitva 1st
4 8/1 🇧🇾 Belarus Koldun – Work Your Magic 6th
5 11/1 🇺🇦 Ukraine Verka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai 2nd
6 11/1 🇧🇬 Bulgaria Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov – Water 5th
7 12/1 🇷🇺 Russia Serebro – Song #1 3rd
8 14/1 🇬🇷 Greece Sarbel – Yassou Maria 7th
9 16/1 🇷🇴 Romania Todomondo – Liubi, Liubi, I Love You 13th
10 16/1 🇨🇾 Cyprus Evridiki – Comme ci, Comme ça SF (15th)
11 20/1 🇸🇮 Slovenia Alenka Gotar – Cvet Z Juga 15th
12 20/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Scooch – Flying The Flag (For You) 22nd
13 20/1 🇲🇹 Malta Olivia Lewis – Vertigo SF (25th)
14 25/1 🇱🇻 Latvia Bonaparti.lv – Questa Notte 16th
15 25/1 🇪🇸 Spain D’NASH – I Love You Mi Vida 20th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 3rd in the odds.
  • 40% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 53% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

As we can see, Switzerland were favourites to win the contest prior to the 2007 contest. It was, therefore, an almighty shock for them to not make it through the semi-final in 2007. Indeed, it was an even bigger surprise to see them languish in 20th out of the 28 semi-finalists that year. Sweden was another misfire by the bookmakers, but the rest of the highest placing countries in the odds achieved high placings at the contest. The other two most overrated entries were from Cyprus and Malta who both failed to make the final. In fact, Malta’s Olivia Lewis found herself in the bottom 4 in the semi-final with Vertigo. This result was a major disappointment considering the pre-contest odds ranking of 13th.

BELGRADE 2008

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2008 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 23rd, 31 days before the final on May 24th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 7/2 🇷🇺 Russia Dima Bilan – Believe 1st
2 9/2 🇷🇸 Serbia Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugić – Oro 6th
3 5/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Dustin The Turkey – Irelande Douze Pointe SF (15th)
4 11/2 🇦🇲 Armenia Sirusho – Qele, Qele 4th
5 7/1 🇺🇦 Ukraine Ani Lorak – Shady Lady 2nd
6 9/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Charlotte Perrelli – Hero 18th
7 18/1 🇧🇬 Bulgaria Deep Zone and Balthazar – DJ, Take Me Away SF (11th)
8 20/1 🇬🇷 Greece Kalomira – Secret Combination 3rd
9 20/1 🇪🇸 Spain Rodolfo Chikilicuatre – Baila El Chiki-Chiki 16th
10 22/1 🇫🇷 France Sébastian Tellier – Divine 19th
11 25/1 🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina Laka – Pokušaj 10th
12 25/1 🇱🇻 Latvia Pirates Of The Sea – Wolves Of The Sea 12th
13 25/1 🇹🇷 Turkey Mor ve Ötesi – Deli 7th
14 25/1 🇨🇭 Switzerland Paolo Meneguzzi – Era Stupendo SF (13th)
15 25/1 🇷🇴 Romania Nico and Vlad – Pe-o Margine de Lume 20th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 53% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

Eventual winners Russia were long-term favourites back in 2008. Although they were consistently under pressure from ArmeniaSerbia and Ukraine who all went on to finish in the top six. On the other hand, Ireland was also amongst that chasing pack. Dustin The Turkey had received substantial media coverage across Europe. In particular, media coverage was high across the UK and Ireland where this betting agency is based. In the end, the media coverage didn’t turn into votes and Ireland failed to make the final.

Returning Eurovision winner Charlotte Perrelli didn’t quite live up to expectations as Sweden required the jury wildcard to make it through the semi-final. Hero went on to finish 18th, well down on its odds ranking of 6th. Bulgaria and Switzerland were both considered amongst the front-runners but failed to make it out of the semi-finals. Yet, Greece exceeded expectations as Kalomira battled for victory at the end of the Saturday show.

MOSCOW 2009

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2009 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 7th, 39 days before the final on May 16th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 6/4 🇳🇴 Norway Alexander Rybak – Fairytale 1st
2 9/2 🇬🇷 Greece Sakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night 7th
3 8/1 🇹🇷 Turkey Hadise – Düm Tek Tek 4th
4 8/1 🇲🇪 Montenegro Andrea Demirović – Just Get Out Of My Life SF (11th)
5 10/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan AySel and Arash – Always 3rd
6 12/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Malena Ernman – La Voix 21st
7 14/1 🇲🇹 Malta Chiara – What If We? 22nd
8 18/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Jade Ewen – It’s My Time 5th
9 25/1 🇪🇪 Estonia Urban Symphony – Rändajad 6th
10 25/1 🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina Regina – Bistra Voda 9th
11 25/1 🇫🇷 France Patricia Kaas – Et S’il Fallait Le Faire 8th
12 25/1 🇪🇸 Spain Soraya – La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me) 24th
13 25/1 🇷🇺 Russia Anastasiya Prikhodko – Mamo 11th
14 33/1 🇫🇮 Finland Waldo’s People – Lose Control 25th
15 33/1 🇮🇸 Iceland Yohanna – Is It True? 2nd
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 67% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

Norway were clear favourites in 2009 with only Greece considered any sort of real opposition. Indeed, Norway went on to secure a record-breaking victory. On the other hand, Greece slightly underperformed against expectations. The main talking point here is Montenegro‘s failure to qualify. The country had yet to qualify as an independent nation but Andrea Demirović was one of the most fancied entries of the year. However, performing first in her semi-final could have played a significant part in Montenegro agonisingly missing out on the first qualification by one place.

Yohanna of Iceland was the breakthrough success of the contest, placing a strong second despite being fancied as a mid-table finalist at best. On the other hand, Sweden‘s Malena Ernman and Malta‘s star artist Chiara didn’t live up to expectations and finished in the bottom 5 of the final. Nevertheless, overall the odds predicted 2009 much better than 2007 and 2008. Was this due to the implementation of the jury vote? Perhaps it was a result of Eurovision becoming an increasingly bigger deal on the Internet with more information more easily obtainable? Maybe we will find some answers as we continue our journey.

OSLO 2010

Next, we look back at the odds ahead of the 2010 contest. These odds were recorded from William Hill on May 6th, 23 days before the final on May 29th. Only the top 10 ranked countries were recorded in this instance.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 5/2 🇩🇪 Germany Lena – Satellite 1st
2 5/2 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Safura – Drip Drop 5th
3 8/1 🇩🇰 Denmark Chanée & N’evergreen – In A Moment Like This 4th
4 8/1 🇮🇱 Israel Harel Skaat – Milim 14th
5 14/1 🇦🇲 Armenia Eva Rivas – Apricot Stone 7th
6 16/1 🇭🇷 Croatia Feminnem – Lako Je Sve SF (13th)
7 20/1 🇳🇴 Norway Didrik Solli-Tangen – My Heart Is Yours 20th
8 22/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Anna Bergendahl – This Is My Life SF (11th)
9 25/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Niamh Kavanagh – It’s For You 23rd
10 28/1 🇬🇷 Greece Giorgos Alkaios and Friends – OPA 8th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 50% of the eventual top 10 at Eurovision placed inside the top 10 of the odds.

Germany and Azerbaijan were clear betting leaders in 2010. The former matched that expectation by taking the victory. Azerbaijan may have been able to put up a close fight but was drawn to open the show whereas Lena performed four songs from the end. Two outsiders completed the top three with Turkey and Romania not fancied at all prior to the contest. We also saw two key favourites from Croatia and Sweden fail to qualify for the final.

Furthermore, there was an under-performance from returning Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh for Ireland. When factoring in this result, plus Croatia’s returning artist Feminnem and Sweden’s returning winner Charlotte Perrelli in 2008 who both also failed to live up to their odds, it does seem that there is a tendency for returning artists to be over-predicted by betting odds. Both Sakis Rouvas and Chiara would also fit this pattern in 2009.

DÜSSELDORF 2011

Now it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2011 contest. These odds were recorded from Paddy Power on April 24th, 20 days before the final on May 14th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 4/1 🇫🇷 France Amaury Vassili – Sognu 15th
2 13/2 🇪🇪 Estonia Getter Jaani – Rockefeller Street 24th
3 7/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Blue – I Can 11th
4 8/1 🇭🇺 Hungary Kati Wolf – What About My Dreams? 22nd
5 10/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Eric Saade – Popular 3rd
6 10/1 🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina Dino Merlin – Love In Rewind 6th
7 12/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Ell & Nikki – Running Scared 1st
8 12/1 🇳🇴 Norway Stella Mwangi – Haba Haba SF (17th)
9 12/1 🇩🇪 Germany Lena – Taken By A Stranger 10th
10 20/1 🇷🇺 Russia Alexej Vorobjov – Get You 16th
11 20/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Jedward – Lipstick 8th
12 20/1 🇩🇰 Denmark A Friend In London – New Tomorrow 5th
13 33/1 🇮🇹 Italy Raphael Gualazzi – Madness Of Love 2nd
14 40/1 🇷🇴 Romania Hotel FM – Change 17th
15 40/1 🇵🇱 Poland Magdalena Tul – Jestem SF (19th)
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 7th in the odds.
  • 20% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

2011 is often deemed to be one of the most open contests in the recent decade and the statistics certainly prove this. Only Sweden lived up to the pre-contest odds of being a contender. Whereas the other countries amongst the top 5 favourites all failed to make the top 10. While Estonia and Hungary failing to break out of the bottom 5 in the final would’ve shocked many bookmakers, Norway‘s failure to qualify by some distance is the ultimate overestimation in the odds this time around.

Going against recent patterns, Germany‘s returning winner Lena was the 9th favourite to win and finished 10th. We have already discovered that returning artists tend to be over-predicted. However, with Lena returning immediately after her first appearance, perhaps the hype around her wasn’t quite as significant as it would’ve been if she returned a few years later on. Furthermore, fans probably realised that two wins in a row for the same artist do seem quite an unlikely outcome.

BAKU 2012

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2012 contest. These odds were recorded from Sky Bet on April 25th, 31 days before the final on May 26th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 9/4 🇸🇪 Sweden Loreen – Euphoria 1st
2 8/1 🇮🇹 Italy Nina Zilli – L’amore è femmina (Out Of Love) 9th
3 10/1 🇷🇺 Russia Buranovskiye Babushki – Party For Everybody 2nd
4 11/1 🇷🇸 Serbia Željko Joksimović – Nije Ljubav Stvar 3rd
5 14/1 🇩🇰 Denmark Soluna Samay – Should’ve Known Better 23rd
6 14/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free 25th
7 16/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Jedward – Waterline 19th
8 18/1 🇪🇸 Spain Pastora Soler – Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me) 10th
9 20/1 🇩🇪 Germany Roman Lob – Standing Still 8th
10 20/1 🇳🇴 Norway Tooji – Stay 26th
11 22/1 🇮🇸 Iceland Greta Salóme and Jónsi – Never Forget 20th
12 25/1 🇬🇷 Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac 17th
13 28/1 🇷🇴 Romania Mandinga – Zaleilah 12th
14 28/1 🇹🇷 Turkey Can Bonomo – Love Me Back 7th
15 33/1 🇨🇾 Cyprus Ivi Adamou – La La Love 16th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 53% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

Sweden were runaway favourites. Thus, it was, therefore, no surprise Loreen secured a landslide victory in Baku. Russia and Serbia were both tipped to be amongst the front-runners and both finished in the top 3. Most notably, the other top 6 finishers at Eurovision, AzerbaijanAlbania and Estonia were nowhere to be seen in the top 15. All three were powerful ballads which many agree benefited from live performances. Therefore, maybe this isn’t such a surprise.

Ireland is the latest to fall into the trap of an overhyped returning artist as Jedward fell way below expectations with their second entry in as many years. Denmark and the United Kingdom were the other countries who failed to live up to their odds. With the very well-known Engelbert Humperdinck representing the latter, people perhaps expected that name power and the subsequent media coverage to translate into votes.

MALMÖ 2013

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2013 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 18th, 30 days before the final on May 18th.

It is important to note that this is the first recording used from Oddschecker. With this website displaying only the best possible odds from a variety of different bookmakers, the range between the odds in the top 15 is much larger.If just a single bookmaker was recorded as in previous years, it is likely the range would be similar to what we have seen between 2007 and 2012.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 6/4 🇩🇰 Denmark Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops 1st
2 8/1 🇳🇴 Norway Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love 4th
3 12/1 🇺🇦 Ukraine Zlata Ognevich – Gravity 3rd
4 16/1 🇷🇺 Russia Dina Garipova – What If 5th
5 16/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Robin Stjernberg – You 14th
6 19/1 🇳🇱 The Netherlands Anouk – Birds 9th
7 25/1 🇩🇪 Germany Cascada – Glorious 21st
8 25/1 🇬🇪 Georgia Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall 15th
9 25/1 🇮🇹 Italy Marco Mengoni – L’Essenziale 7th
10 33/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Farid Mammadov – Hold Me 2nd
11 40/1 🇸🇲 San Marino Valentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola) SF (11th)
12 50/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Bonnie Tyler – Believe In Me 19th
13 66/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Ryan Dolan – Only Love Survives 26th
14 66/1 🇧🇾 Belarus Alyona Lanskaya – Solayoh 16th
15 75/1 🇬🇷 Greece Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free 6th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 80% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 67% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

This time around Denmark were the runaway favourites and scored a fairly easy victory. The odds were more reliable than ever in 2013, with only Azerbaijan of the eventual top 5 finishers not amongst the top 5 in the odds. Farid’s stage performance is often considered a key reason behind the success of Hold Me. This was, of course, a factor that wouldn’t have been known about the month before. One of the most notable talking points here was San Marino‘s failure to qualify. Fan favourite Valentina Monetta was another returning artist to be over-predicted by the odds. Although Crisalide (Vola) was a much more competitive entry than The Social Network Song was a year earlier.

The other major talking point was the under-performance of Germany. Cascada was the most well-known act prior the contest alongside the United Kingdom‘s Bonnie Tyler and received significant media coverage particularly in Western Europe where the majority of these bookmakers are based. Both of these acts failed to live up to expectations. When taking into account Engelbert’s performance in 2012, it seems like gamblers are wrongly associating media coverage and artist popularity with good results. After all, it is a song contest!

COPENHAGEN 2014

Next up, it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2014 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 7th, 33 days before the final on May 10th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 6/4 🇦🇲 Armenia Aram MP3 – Not Alone 4th
2 11/2 🇸🇪 Sweden Sanna Nielsen – Undo 3rd
3 12/1 🇩🇰 Denmark Basim – Cliché Love Song 9th
4 12/1 🇳🇴 Norway Carl Espen – Silent Storm 8th
5 18/1 🇭🇺 Hungary András Kállay-Saunders – Running 5th
6 20/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Molly – Children Of The Universe 17th
7 20/1 🇺🇦 Ukraine Mariya Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock 6th
8 20/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Dilara Kazimova – Start A Fire 22nd
9 25/1 🇧🇪 Belgium Axel Hirsoux – Mother SF (14th)
10 25/1 🇷🇴 Romania Paula Seling & OVI – Miracle 12th
11 40/1 🇷🇺 Russia Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine 7th
12 66/1 🇮🇹 Italy Emma Marrone – La Mia Città 21st
13 66/1 🇬🇷 Greece Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd – Rise Up 20th
14 66/1 🇮🇱 Israel Mei Finegold – Same Heart SF (14th)
15 66/1 🇮🇪 Ireland Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith – Heartbeat SF (12th)
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed outside the top 15 in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 53% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

2014 has become the go-to contest when it comes to arguing that odds aren’t always correct. Both Austria and The Netherlands were outside the top 15 of the odds a month prior to them finishing top 2 in Copenhagen. Furthermore, the live performances of the Austrian and Dutch entries have become leading examples in how to perfectly stage a Eurovision entry. As the years have progressed, stages have offered more and more options for delegations to enhance their songs. This is something bookmakers cannot predict and 2014 was the first year they were truly stung.

Elsewhere, Belgium was the key underperformer as Axel Hirsoux failed to progress from his semi-final. Even though these odds are for victory, they perhaps suggested that Ireland and Israel were also expected to make it to the grand final. Arguably the live performance and running order draw respectively led to the failure of two fan favourites.

VIENNA 2015

We’re nearly there! Now it’s time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2015 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 25th, 28 days before the final on May 23rd.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 6/4 🇸🇪 Sweden Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes 1st
2 7/2 🇮🇹 Italy Il Volo – Grande Amore 3rd
3 5/1 🇦🇺 Australia Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again 5th
4 10/1 🇪🇪 Estonia Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday 7th
5 25/1 🇫🇮 Finland Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät – Aina Mun Pitää SF (16th)
6 25/1 🇷🇺 Russia Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices 2nd
7 25/1 🇳🇴 Norway Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me 8th
8 25/1 🇸🇮 Slovenia Maraaya – Here For You 14th
9 33/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Elnur Huseynov – Hour Of The Wolf 12th
10 50/1 🇮🇸 Iceland Maria Olafs – Unbroken SF (15th)
11 50/1 🇬🇧 United Kingdom Electro Velvet – Still In Love With You 24th
12 50/1 🇧🇪 Belgium Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside 4th
13 66/1 🇪🇸 Spain Edurne – Amanecer 21st
14 66/1 🇦🇱 Albania Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive 17th
15 80/1 🇦🇲 Armenia Genealogy – Face The Shadow 16th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 1st in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

The bookmakers were back on form for 2015, correctly installing Sweden as the slight favourite. Italy was expected to be in close contention and rightly so. Il Volo won the televote only to lose out due to a lower jury ranking. Russia and Belgium were both in and around the top 10 and both gained extra momentum once we set foot in Vienna, something that wouldn’t have been known in April.

The main talking point in 2015 was the shock elimination of Finland in the semi-finals. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät was the act with the most pre-contest media coverage across Europe and the bookmakers responded accordingly. However, like with Cascada, Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck in recent years, the media coverage didn’t translate into success at the contest.

STOCKHOLM 2016

It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2016 contest. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 13th, 31 days before the final on May 14th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 7/4 🇷🇺 Russia Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One 3rd
2 13/2 🇫🇷 France Amir – J’ai cherché 6th
3 11/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Frans – If I Were Sorry 5th
4 14/1 🇦🇺 Australia Dami Im – Sound Of Silence 2nd
5 20/1 🇲🇹 Malta Ira Losco – Walk On Water 12th
6 20/1 🇺🇦 Ukraine Jamala – 1944 1st
7 22/1 🇦🇲 Armenia Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave 7th
8 22/1 🇱🇻 Latvia Justs – Heartbeat 15th
9 25/1 🇷🇸 Serbia Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter) 18th
10 33/1 🇪🇸 Spain Barei – Say Yay! 22nd
11 35/1 🇧🇬 Bulgaria Poli Genova – If Love Was A Crime 4th
12 40/1 🇮🇹 Italy Francesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation 16th
13 45/1 🇭🇷 Croatia Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse 23rd
14 50/1 🇵🇱 Poland Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life 8th
15 50/1 🇳🇱 The Netherlands Douwe Bob – Slow Down 11th
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 6th in the odds.
  • 60% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 73% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

Since 2007, 2016 is the most predictable contest so far according to the odds. 11 of the top 15 at Eurovision were placed inside the top 15 of the odds a month prior to the contest. Nevertheless, Ukraine‘s eventual victory wasn’t quite on the horizon with the odds seemingly suggesting Jamala be more of an each-way contender rather than an outright winner. Malta‘s Ira Losco is the next returning artist to have been overhyped by the odds. Although for a change, Poli Genova’s return for Bulgaria was under-predicted by the odds and surprised many by going top 5 despite being a fan favourite.

The biggest positive surprises last year were the top 10 finishes for Lithuania and Belgium. Neither Donny Montell or Laura Tesoro was in the top 15 of the odds. Nevertheless, their slick, professional and upbeat performances wowed audiences on the night to overachieve against their odds!

KYIV 2017

We’ve now made it to the most recent contest! It’s now time to look back at the odds ahead of the 2017 contest in Kyiv. These odds were recorded from Oddschecker on April 21st, 22 days before the final on May 13th.

Rank Odds Country Entry Eurovision
Placing
1 13/10 🇮🇹 Italy Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma 6th
2 13/2 🇧🇬 Bulgaria Kristian Kostov – Beautiful Mess 2nd
3 9/1 🇸🇪 Sweden Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On 5th
4 14/1 🇵🇹 Portugal Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois 1st
5 20/1 🇧🇪 Belgium Blanche – City Lights 4th
6 33/1 🇦🇺 Australia Isaiah – Don’t Come Easy 9th
7 33/1 🇦🇲 Armenia Artsvik – Fly With Me 18th
8 40/1 🇫🇷 France Alma – Requiem 12th
9 50/1 🇦🇿 Azerbaijan Dihaj – Skeletons 14th
10 50/1 🇩🇰 Denmark Anja – Where I Am 20th
11 50/1 🇭🇺 Hungary Joci Pápai – Origo 8th
12 66/1 🇬🇷 Greece Demy – This Is Love 19th
13 80/1 🇷🇴 Romania Ilinca ft. Alex Florea – Yodel It! 7th
14 100/1 🇳🇱 The Netherlands OG3NE – Lights And Shadows 11th
15 100/1 🇪🇪 Estonia Koit Toome & Laura – Verona SF (14th)
Analysis
  • The winning entry was placed 4th in the odds.
  • 80% of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds.
  • 73% of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the odds.

Stockholm 2016’s odds were the first to correctly predict 11 of the top 15 finishers. Nevertheless, Kyiv 2017 managed the exact same feat while also predicting four of the top 5 – one more than Stockholm’s pre-contest odds predicted. Therefore, it seems that the contest really is becoming more predictable…

However, clear favourites Italy were not able to live up to the hype placing 6th in the grand final. The success of the rest of the top 5 was foreseen, with the clear exception of Moldova. Indeed, Sunstroke Project was available at over 100/1 to win the contest and could’ve been a great each-way bet for those who believed in Hey Mamma. Portugal‘s record-breaking victory wasn’t always destined to be on the cards, with Salvador only 4th favourite to win prior to rehearsals kicking off at the end of April.

Norway‘s JOWST was never considered to be in contention, so the 10th place for Grab the Moment would have been a positive surprise for the Norwegians. On the other hand, it was Koit Toome & Laura from Estonia, both returnees to Eurovision, who was the fan favourites to fall. The jury was not impressed with Verona in the second semi-final, ultimately causing the biggest shock from the 2017 semi-finals.

Key findings

The mathematical stuff

It’s nice just to reminisce and look back at the past, but it’s also nice to try and make a couple of conclusions here and there! I’m not going to pretend to be any mathematical genius but I’ve plotted the percentages calculated below each chart in the paragraphs above into a graph.

The orange line shows what percentage of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds that year. The grey line shows what percentage of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the odds that year. The blue and green lines show the overall trends over the past 11 years regarding how accurate the top 5 and 15 of the odds have been in predicting the top 5 and top 15 finishers respectively in any order.

Odds are becoming increasingly more accurate indicators

Overall, this tells us that over the past eleven years, odds-to-win have become increasingly reliable at predicting which countries will finish both inside the top 5 and the top 15. This is shown by both the blue and green trend lines trending upwards over the decade. With the very accurate odds from 2017, the trend has become more noticeable than ever before.

Taking the figures at face value, we can discover the following:

  • 9 times out of 11, at least three of the top 5 in the odds a month prior the contest has finished in the top 5 at Eurovision.
  • Excluding 2010 where the dataset was smaller, on all 10 occasions more than half of the top 15 in the odds have gone on to finish in the top 15 at the contest.
  • On only two occasions have the top 5 odds matched more than three entries in the eventual Eurovision top 5, in 2013 and 2017.
  • However, only twice has the top 15 in the odds matched more than ten of the eventual top 15 finishers at Eurovision. Noticeably, this was in the two most recent contests, in 2016 and 2017.

Other observations

The most notable pattern when it came to discovering which type of entries tended to underperform at Eurovision were those countries who were being represented by returning artists. Perhaps this is because Eurovision fans are already familiar with these artists and therefore pay their entries more attention then they would do otherwise. Returning artists often result in more fanfare on various media websites. Particularly the likes of Charlotte Perrelli, Niamh Kavanagh or Ira Losco who were previous winners and runner-ups returning for their nations.

Talking about media coverage, well-known artists are also susceptible to being overhyped in the odds. A well-known artist being selected for Eurovision immediately results in more media coverage, whether it be Blue, Engelbert Humperdinck or Cascada. This seems to immediately translate into more betting support than they should probably be getting, particularly when these acts are from Western European countries. As the bookmakers we are analysing here are largely based in Western Europe, these acts are likely to have more effect on the odds than a major star from an Eastern European country for example due to a lack of name recognition amongst the users of these betting agencies.

Let’s revisit next month

I look forward to revisiting these conclusions next month when we can compare the odds from a month prior to the 2017 contest with what we have discovered here. Maybe Netta’s media coverage is giving Israel false hype in the betting odds, similarly to Italy last year on a lesser scale? Furthermore, the data suggests that at least three of the current top 5 in the odds – Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Belgium and Sweden – will be top 5 in the grand final. Who will they be?


Do let us know in the comments section below or via our social media pages if you have any thoughts about all of these statistics! Were you surprised to see DJ Bobo topping the odds in 2007? Perhaps you’d forgotten Dustin The Turkey was deemed a potential winner in 2008? Make sure you visit us @ESCXTRA!

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