Editorials & Opinion

Analysing 12 years of Eurovision odds: Is the contest becoming more predictable?

Take a journey down memory lane with us as we look back at the odds from Helsinki 2007 all the way through to Lisbon 2018!

This is an updated version of an article published in March 2018

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 twelve 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.

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 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.

Our journey down memory lane continues on the next page…

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