When it comes to predicting the results of a national final, semi-final or the grand final itself, Eurovision fans have a lot of thoughts and feelings.
After years of meticulous analysis of the running order, diaspora and subtle shifts in the voting systems we are able to generally make accurate predictions about the results of any given event. I think it is safe to say that Eurovision fans become soothsayers of the contest we all love. However, does the Eurovision fandom have a wider influence outside the bubble? If so, does the fan hype make a demonstrable difference to the public perception of a song – leading to more (or less!) points?
What is the influence of previews?
Simon: Very close to zero, I’m sure.
Nick: See, I heavily disagree. Pre-contest hypes, and therefore pre-contest favourites, are created by fans.
Simon: Yes, but when you consider how much of the hype reaches the general public (which is not a lot in the majority of countries!) and whether they would be tempted to vote in a certain way because of that (barely) then you’ll end up with an influence close to nil.
Nick: Previews across Europe, in bigger and smaller shows, mention who the favourites are before the contest. They then almost always pick those that top fan polls.
Simon: I don’t think people vote because of what they have been exposed to on a preview show.
Oliver: I don’t think it is preview shows per se that make the difference. It is the mainstream media who are not naturally invested in the contest, but write a few articles or features to capture rising traffic. They highlight a few songs as ‘fierce competition’ against whoever the national song is. You also see commentators making a brief shout-out to a similar effect – especially with famous or returning artists.
Nick: Exactly, people can be easily influenced. If they repeatedly get told something is the favourite, they’ll pay extra attention to it, whether it’s on a Eurovision show, a newspaper or whatever broadcast it is on television or even social media. Therefore, they will be more likely to pick up the phone and vote for them.
Oliver: Rehearsals should also be considered a form of ‘preview’. Fansites who report the events of rehearsal week have an obvious advantage to lead the news agenda, magnifying the echo-chamber of who had a good or bad time on stage.
A favourite of the fandom = recipe for success?
Simon: Similarly, I don’t think it is generally fan influence that causes that sort of hype, it is probably because it is worthy of being a favourite. Fan-favourites can be fan-favourites for other reasons. Returning artists or a vague ‘scandal’ can also bestow favourite status. While Suzy became a fan favourite in Copenhagen for her infectious personality and catchy song, this did not register with the public enough to ensure a place in the final.
Nick: While Suzy did have hype surrounding her in Copenhagen, she never did well in polls or with bookmakers. In early season, those voting and those betting are just one sort of people: Fans of the contest. In general, I don’t think much research is being done re: Eurovision for previews/talkshows/articles. They tend to follow the trend and narrative of the fans, which they discover through bookmakers and fan polls. Ultimately, I feel that trends start and end via the fans.
Oliver: I’m leaning towards Nick on this one. If you think about the betting market, songs have risen or crashed solely based on rehearsals. As soon as ‘Not Alone’ was unveiled, Aram MP3 and Armenia shot to the top as the song to beat. However, at the first sign of the running order and a shaky vocal in the first rehearsal, things drifted rapidly. Gabbani also met a similar fate, with an extremely busy backdrop that muddied the performance. Of course, both of these examples still got a top 10 result, and remain favourites to this day. Nevertheless, a drift in the polls reflected a drift in the final placing.
Simon: I think there is logic to all of this, but what percentage of viewers notice and follow the pre-contest previews and hype? I don’t think it has a significant influence. That said, I do think what the commentators say on the day – which will be led by fan hype – could potentially influence an audience.
Influential mainstream media or merely clickbait?
The role of the mainstream media cannot be underestimated. If you read a headline stating ‘Eurovision Winner Returns’ or ‘The one with the chicken noises’ on a mainstream media source, it becomes a source of familiarity. Therefore, when the voting window actually opens, you are subliminally prepared for the performance and find less hesitation to vote for it.
Needless to say, this doesn’t guarantee a great result. For all the fan hype which the media mirrored about Benjamin Ingrosso potentially leading to a Swedish win for a 7th time, the public were massively turned off. I think part of the explanation to his paltry 21 points is being hyped so much the public thought there isn’t the need to vote for Sweden – as others will pick up the phone as it is ‘one of the favourites’.
Once again, we asked our team what they thought about the issue presented here, in a flash-poll. Here are the results:
So what do you think? Does the fandom have a measurable influence on a Eurovision result? We would love to know your thoughts in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA!