Editorials & Opinion

🇪🇺 Rediscovering 14 years of Eurovision odds: We analyse and reminisce

This is an updated version of an article published in March 2019

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 fourteen 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.

🇷🇺 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 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.

Our journey down memory lane continues on the next page…

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