Editorials & Opinion

“Should’ve Known Better”: SVT address app criticism but marginalise young adults

Where are they going wrong with the app vote changes?

Last week the Swedish broadcaster SVT announced the biggest changes in Melodifestivalen voting since launching the voting app in 2015. On paper some of the changes sound very bizarre, but how they will affect the results?

Why the change is a good thing?

Let’s first focus on the good things that come with the change. Ever since the launching of the app in 2015, Melodifestivalen has received lots of criticism about the app vote. Many people believed that only the younger audience use the app and as you can vote for free on the platform, it might seem they have more power than the traditional televoters. For the next three years, SVT didn’t make any changes to the app vote, despite the criticism, but now they are finally seeing the flaws with the old app vote system.

In 2015, SVT also added an animated heart to the screen to show how many votes the entry is receiving. Usually this made it too obvious as to who will qualify, removing all the excitement from the show. This year they won’t remove the heart, but instead it will change colour based on which age group is voting for the act most. This should make the show much more exciting than it has been over the past few years.

But what is going wrong?

SVT hasn’t revealed how many organic televotes they have received yearly after launching the app. Now it seems that the app vote has really taken over, as in 2019 the telephone votes will only weigh 12.5%. We don’t know if this is similar to what it has been before, but it sounds very little.

The way the different age categories have been grouped also seems weird. For some reason, they have decided to give only one group to the 16–29-year-old young adult demographic. We don’t know the actual viewing figures of Melodifestivalen, but it would make most sense that their biggest audience is the young adults. Surveys also show that young adults use smartphones the most.

There are two groups for children (3 to 9 years and 10 to 15 years), two for adults (30 to 44 and 45 to 59) and two for seniors (60 to 74 and 75+). There are 12 years covered by the two groups in the childrens’ demographic and 13 years covered by the one group in the young adult demographic. So, is it fair to give the children more impact in the vote than young adults?

An additional truth is that anyone can fake their age on the app. It is unlikely that as many people will vote in the group of 75+ as in the group of 16 to 29. If you want your vote to have more impact, you could just decide to vote in an age group that doesn’t have as many voters.

What this also means is that even if one million people aged between 16 to 29 would vote, their vote will have as much weight in the results as other age groups with less voters. What this also means is that there is a chance that the actual public’s favourite will not receive the most amount of points.

What difference does this make?

SVT says the qualifiers from the semifinals in Melodifestivalen 2018 would still be the same. They also say that the differences between on how different age groups vote have generally been small. Right now it seems that the results will not have big changes compared to the old system.

In recent years, the app votes haven’t been widely spread, making it that the international juries have more power in deciding on who wins. For example, in 2018, the winner of the televote Benjamin Ingrosso received only 30 points more than the act finishing last in televote. In the jury vote, the difference between their favourite and their least favourite was way over 100 points.

Similarly, in 2016, despite getting over million votes more than David Lindgren on the last place, Frans received only 40 points more than him. This means that if all the international juries would have placed David Lindgren first, David could have won the whole contest, despite coming last in the televote. Obviously, this is a very extreme example.

In 2019, the points from the audience will most likely be more spread making them have more impact in the actual results. The number of international juries will also be reduced to eight to match the eight voting groups and make sure here continues to be an equal weighting between the public and the jury votes.

Only time will tell as to whether these changes have a true impact on the results of this year’s show. One thing is for sure though, we will be eager to see the full demographic televoting breakdown when SVT reveal it after the final.

What do you think about the changes in the app vote? Let us know on social media @ESCXTRA!

Sami Luukela

I started watching Eurovision back in 2006, when I was only 10 and couldn't stay up to see Lordi winning. I attended my first contest in 2013 in Malmö. I'm studying journalism and I love music — you will probably never see me without my headphones on.

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