Editorials & Opinion

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

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 blue and green lines show the overall trends over the past 11 years regarding how accurate the top 5 and 15 of the odds have been in predicting the top 5 and top 15 finishers respectively in any order.

Odds have become increasingly more accurate indicators

Overall, this tells us that over the past thirteen years, odds-to-win have become increasingly reliable at predicting which countries will finish both inside the top 5 and those inside the top 15. This is shown by both the blue and green trend lines trending upwards over the decade. However, after a very predictable 2019, the top 5 trend in particular has become more significant.

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

  • 10 times out of 13, 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 12 occasions more than half of the top 15 in the odds have gone on to finish in the top 15 at the contest.
  • On only three occasions have the top 5 odds matched more than three entries in the eventual Eurovision top 5, in 2013, 2017 and 2019.
  • However, only three times has the top 15 in the odds matched more than ten of the eventual top 15 finishers at Eurovision. Noticeably, this was in three of the most recent contests, in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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 about 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 in May

I look forward to revisiting these conclusions in May when we can compare the results from the 2021 contest with what we have discovered here. Can Malta’s Destiny or Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears follow in the footsteps of Netta and Duncan Laurence and make it three-in-a-row for turning a lead in the odds to Eurovision victory? Furthermore, the data suggests that at least three of the current top 5 in the odds – Malta, Switzerland, France, Bulgaria and Italy – will be top 5 in the grand final. Who will they be?

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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