Editorials & Opinion

Analysing ten years of Eurovision odds: Why they are a good but imperfect indicator

In recent years I’ve perhaps had a slightly unhealthy obsession with Eurovision odds. I often believe that they can’t be that wrong when it comes to the results at Eurovision itself. In the weeks before the respective contests I was convinced France had it in the bag in 2011, Armenia the same in 2014 and Russia in 2016. 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?

However, for many fans, betting odds are considered the most important ranking when it comes to predicting where entries will finish come May. Fan forum rankings or YouTube views can always be skewed by either the often atypical taste of Eurofans or the size of the populations of 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 ten years of betting odds. For each contest, we’ve found 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
15/1🇨🇭 SwitzerlandDJ Bobo – Vampires Are AliveSF (20th)
27/1🇸🇪 SwedenThe Ark – The Worrying Kind18th
38/1🇷🇸 SerbiaMarija Šerifović – Molitva1st
48/1🇧🇾 BelarusKoldun – Work Your Magic6th
511/1🇺🇦 UkraineVerka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai2nd
611/1🇧🇬 BulgariaElitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov – Water5th
712/1🇷🇺 RussiaSerebro – Song #13rd
814/1🇬🇷 GreeceSarbel – Yassou Maria7th
916/1🇷🇴 RomaniaTodomondo – Liubi, Liubi, I Love You13th
1016/1🇨🇾 CyprusEvridiki – Comme ci, Comme çaSF (15th)
1120/1🇸🇮 SloveniaAlenka Gotar – Cvet Z Juga15th
1220/1🇬🇧 United KingdomScooch – Flying The Flag (For You)22nd
1320/1🇲🇹 MaltaOlivia Lewis – VertigoSF (25th)
1425/1🇱🇻 LatviaBonaparti.lv – Questa Notte16th
1525/1🇪🇸 SpainD’NASH – I Love You Mi Vida20th
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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
17/2🇷🇺 RussiaDima Bilan – Believe1st
29/2🇷🇸 SerbiaJelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugić – Oro6th
35/1🇮🇪 IrelandDustin The Turkey – Irelande Douze PointeSF (15th)
411/2🇦🇲 ArmeniaSirusho – Qele, Qele4th
57/1🇺🇦 UkraineAni Lorak – Shady Lady2nd
69/1🇸🇪 SwedenCharlotte Perrelli – Hero18th
718/1🇧🇬 BulgariaDeep Zone and Balthazar – DJ, Take Me AwaySF (11th)
820/1🇬🇷 GreeceKalomira – Secret Combination3rd
920/1🇪🇸 SpainRodolfo Chikilicuatre – Baila El Chiki-Chiki16th
1022/1🇫🇷 FranceSébastian Tellier – Divine19th
1125/1🇧🇦 Bosnia & HerzegovinaLaka – Pokušaj10th
1225/1🇱🇻 LatviaPirates Of The Sea – Wolves Of The Sea12th
1325/1🇹🇷 TurkeyMor ve Ötesi – Deli7th
1425/1🇨🇭 SwitzerlandPaolo Meneguzzi – Era StupendoSF (13th)
1525/1🇷🇴 RomaniaNico and Vlad – Pe-o Margine de Lume20th
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 were 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4🇳🇴 NorwayAlexander Rybak – Fairytale1st
29/2🇬🇷 GreeceSakis Rouvas – This Is Our Night7th
38/1🇹🇷 TurkeyHadise – Düm Tek Tek4th
48/1🇲🇪 MontenegroAndrea Demirović – Just Get Out Of My LifeSF (11th)
510/1🇦🇿 AzerbaijanAySel and Arash – Always3rd
612/1🇸🇪 SwedenMalena Ernman – La Voix21st
714/1🇲🇹 MaltaChiara – What If We?22nd
818/1🇬🇧 United KingdomJade Ewen – It’s My Time5th
925/1🇪🇪 EstoniaUrban Symphony – Rändajad6th
1025/1🇧🇦 Bosnia & HerzegovinaRegina – Bistra Voda9th
1125/1🇫🇷 FrancePatricia Kaas – Et S’il Fallait Le Faire8th
1225/1🇪🇸 SpainSoraya – La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me)24th
1325/1🇷🇺 RussiaAnastasiya Prikhodko – Mamo11th
1433/1🇫🇮 FinlandWaldo’s People – Lose Control25th
1533/1🇮🇸 IcelandYohanna – 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 other contender. Indeed, Norway went on to secure a record-breaking victory. On the other hand, Greece slightly under-performed 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
15/2🇩🇪 GermanyLena – Satellite1st
25/2🇦🇿 AzerbaijanSafura – Drip Drop5th
38/1🇩🇰 DenmarkChanée & N’evergreen – In A Moment Like This4th
48/1🇮🇱 IsraelHarel Skaat – Milim14th
514/1🇦🇲 ArmeniaEva Rivas – Apricot Stone7th
616/1🇭🇷 CroatiaFeminnem – Lako Je SveSF (13th)
720/1🇳🇴 NorwayDidrik Solli-Tangen – My Heart Is Yours20th
822/1🇸🇪 SwedenAnna Bergendahl – This Is My LifeSF (11th)
925/1🇮🇪 IrelandNiamh Kavanagh – It’s For You23rd
1028/1🇬🇷 GreeceGiorgos Alkaios and Friends – OPA8th
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 victory. Azerbaijan may have been able to put up a closer fight but were 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
14/1🇫🇷 FranceAmaury Vassili – Sognu15th
213/2🇪🇪 EstoniaGetter Jaani – Rockefeller Street24th
37/1🇬🇧 United KingdomBlue – I Can11th
48/1🇭🇺 HungaryKati Wolf – What About My Dreams?22nd
510/1🇸🇪 SwedenEric Saade – Popular3rd
610/1🇧🇦 Bosnia & HerzegovinaDino Merlin – Love In Rewind6th
712/1🇦🇿 AzerbaijanEll & Nikki – Running Scared1st
812/1🇳🇴 NorwayStella Mwangi – Haba HabaSF (17th)
912/1🇩🇪 GermanyLena – Taken By A Stranger10th
1020/1🇷🇺 RussiaAlexej Vorobjov – Get You16th
1120/1🇮🇪 IrelandJedward – Lipstick8th
1220/1🇩🇰 DenmarkA Friend In London – New Tomorrow5th
1333/1🇮🇹 ItalyRaphael Gualazzi – Madness Of Love2nd
1440/1🇷🇴 RomaniaHotel FM – Change17th
1540/1🇵🇱 PolandMagdalena Tul – JestemSF (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 round.

Going against recent patterns, Germany‘s returning winner Lena was 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 does 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
19/4🇸🇪 SwedenLoreen – Euphoria1st
28/1🇮🇹 ItalyNina Zilli – L’amore è femmina (Out Of Love)9th
310/1🇷🇺 RussiaBuranovskiye Babushki – Party For Everybody2nd
411/1🇷🇸 SerbiaŽeljko Joksimović – Nije Ljubav Stvar3rd
514/1🇩🇰 DenmarkSoluna Samay – Should’ve Known Better23rd
614/1🇬🇧 United KingdomEngelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free25th
716/1🇮🇪 IrelandJedward – Waterline19th
818/1🇪🇸 SpainPastora Soler – Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)10th
920/1🇩🇪 GermanyRoman Lob – Standing Still8th
1020/1🇳🇴 NorwayTooji – Stay26th
1122/1🇮🇸 IcelandGreta Salóme and Jónsi – Never Forget20th
1225/1🇬🇷 GreeceEleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac17th
1328/1🇷🇴 RomaniaMandinga – Zaleilah12th
1428/1🇹🇷 TurkeyCan Bonomo – Love Me Back7th
1533/1🇨🇾 CyprusIvi Adamou – La La Love16th
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 are 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4🇩🇰 DenmarkEmmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops1st
28/1🇳🇴 NorwayMargaret Berger – I Feed You My Love4th
312/1🇺🇦 UkraineZlata Ognevich – Gravity3rd
416/1🇷🇺 RussiaDina Garipova – What If5th
516/1🇸🇪 SwedenRobin Stjernberg – You14th
619/1🇳🇱 The NetherlandsAnouk – Birds9th
725/1🇩🇪 GermanyCascada – Glorious21st
825/1🇬🇪 GeorgiaNodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall15th
925/1🇮🇹 ItalyMarco Mengoni – L’Essenziale7th
1033/1🇦🇿 AzerbaijanFarid Mammadov – Hold Me2nd
1140/1🇸🇲 San MarinoValentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola)SF (11th)
1250/1🇬🇧 United KingdomBonnie Tyler – Believe In Me19th
1366/1🇮🇪 IrelandRyan Dolan – Only Love Survives26th
1466/1🇧🇾 BelarusAlyona Lanskaya – Solayoh16th
1575/1🇬🇷 GreeceKoza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free6th
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 were 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4🇦🇲 ArmeniaAram MP3 – Not Alone4th
211/2🇸🇪 SwedenSanna Nielsen – Undo3rd
312/1🇩🇰 DenmarkBasim – Cliché Love Song9th
412/1🇳🇴 NorwayCarl Espen – Silent Storm8th
518/1🇭🇺 HungaryAndrás Kállay-Saunders – Running5th
620/1🇬🇧 United KingdomMolly – Children Of The Universe17th
720/1🇺🇦 UkraineMariya Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock6th
820/1🇦🇿 AzerbaijanDilara Kazimova – Start A Fire22nd
925/1🇧🇪 BelgiumAxel Hirsoux – MotherSF (14th)
1025/1🇷🇴 RomaniaPaula Seling & OVI – Miracle12th
1140/1🇷🇺 RussiaTolmachevy Sisters – Shine7th
1266/1🇮🇹 ItalyEmma Marrone – La Mia Città21st
1366/1🇬🇷 GreeceFreaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd – Rise Up20th
1466/1🇮🇱 IsraelMei Finegold – Same HeartSF (14th)
1566/1🇮🇪 IrelandCan-Linn feat. Kasey Smith – HeartbeatSF (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 progress, stages have offered more and more options for delegations to enhance their songs. This is something bookmakers can not predict and 2014 was the first year they were truly stung.

Elsewhere, Belgium were 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
16/4🇸🇪 SwedenMåns Zelmerlöw – Heroes1st
27/2🇮🇹 ItalyIl Volo – Grande Amore3rd
35/1🇦🇺 AustraliaGuy Sebastian – Tonight Again5th
410/1🇪🇪 EstoniaElina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday7th
525/1🇫🇮 FinlandPertti Kurikan Nimipäivät – Aina Mun PitääSF (16th)
625/1🇷🇺 RussiaPolina Gagarina – A Million Voices2nd
725/1🇳🇴 NorwayMørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me8th
825/1🇸🇮 SloveniaMaraaya – Here For You14th
933/1🇦🇿 AzerbaijanElnur Huseynov – Hour Of The Wolf12th
1050/1🇮🇸 IcelandMaria Olafs – UnbrokenSF (15th)
1150/1🇬🇧 United KingdomElectro Velvet – Still In Love With You24th
1250/1🇧🇪 BelgiumLoïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside4th
1366/1🇪🇸 SpainEdurne – Amanecer21st
1466/1🇦🇱 AlbaniaElhaida Dani – I’m Alive17th
1580/1🇦🇲 ArmeniaGenealogy – Face The Shadow16th
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 slight favourite. Italy were 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 were 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

We’ve made it! 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.

RankOddsCountryEntryEurovision
Placing
17/4🇷🇺 RussiaSergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One3rd
213/2🇫🇷 FranceAmir – J’ai cherché6th
311/1🇸🇪 SwedenFrans – If I Were Sorry5th
414/1🇦🇺 AustraliaDami Im – Sound Of Silence2nd
520/1🇲🇹 MaltaIra Losco – Walk On Water12th
620/1🇺🇦 UkraineJamala – 19441st
722/1🇦🇲 ArmeniaIveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave7th
822/1🇱🇻 LatviaJusts – Heartbeat15th
925/1🇷🇸 SerbiaSanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter)18th
1033/1🇪🇸 SpainBarei – Say Yay!22nd
1135/1🇧🇬 BulgariaPoli Genova – If Love Was A Crime4th
1240/1🇮🇹 ItalyFrancesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation16th
1345/1🇭🇷 CroatiaNina Kraljić – Lighthouse23rd
1450/1🇵🇱 PolandMichał Szpak – Color Of Your Life8th
1550/1🇳🇱 The NetherlandsDouwe Bob – Slow Down11th
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.

In the past 10 years, last year was the most predictable contest 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 to 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 were in the top 15 of the odds. Nevertheless, their slick, professional and upbeat performances wowed audiences on the night to overachieve against their odds!

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 green line shows an overall trend over the past 10 years regarding how accurate the top 15 odds have been in predicting the top 15 finishers in any order.

Odds are becoming increasingly more accurate indicators

Overall, this tells us that over the past ten years, odds-to-win have become increasingly reliable at predicting which countries will finish inside the top 15. This is shown by the green trend line trending upwards over the decade. Nevertheless, the trend isn’t particularly substantial and is susceptible to anomalous results.

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

  • 8 times out of 10, 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 9 occasions more than half of the top 15 in the odds have gone on ot finish in the top 15 at the contest.
  • On only one occasion have the the top 5 odds matched more than three entries in the eventual Eurovision top 5, in 2013.
  • However, only once has the top 15 in the odds matched more than ten of the eventual top 15 finishers at Eurovision, in 2016.

Therefore, when it comes to looking at the odds in a few weeks time we should be deciding which two of the current top 5 in the odds won’t be finishing top 5 in Kyiv. Furthermore, we should be deciding which five entries in the current top 15 of the odds won’t be finishing top 15 in Kyiv!

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 of 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 Francesco Gabbani’s media coverage is giving Italy false hype in the betting odds? Which two of Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Bulgaria and Portugal are going to miss out on the Kyiv top 5?

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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