After many years of speculation, it finally seemed in 2017 that a multi-national Asian version of the beloved Eurovision Song Contest format was coming. However with the many geographical difficulties in co-ordinating such an event and little in the way of updates in recent years, it will come as no surprise that today, SBS has confirmed it has dropped the rights of the Eurovision Asia format.
SBS cancels Eurovision Asia
Tonight Josh Martin the Head of Delegation for Australia and Commissioning Editor for SBS confirmed to TV Tonight that the rights to the Eurovision Asia format are now withdrawn. Although many had tried to bring the popular Eurovision Song Contest format to the Asia-Pacific region, in the end it proved impossible. Mainly the difficulties with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic. The logistics of managing quarantine and travel restrictions. As well as trying to persuade China, likely the biggest source of revenue and viewership to the format, to join. While also navigating the geo-political tensions in the region.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve rescinded our rights. We spent a number of years trying to figure out how to do it and then the global pandemic came along.It’s very different to the way Eurovision started post-World War Two, as a means of bringing people together. There was a real purpose in establishing it. Eurovision Asia is difficult for a number of reasons: time zones, language barriers, all sorts of issues. We tried so hard but that was one that we just could never quite pin down. It’s kind of like any TV show. You put a lot of things into development, and not all of them get up. So that was one that we could not, for whatever reason, make work.”Josh Martin, HoD Australia
Birth of a new Eurovision… or was it?
Back in August 2017, the EBU surprised everyone with the news the hallowed Eurovision Song Contest format that had already brought nations from Europe, Eurasia and even Australia, together, was now coming exclusively to the Asia-Pacific region under the Eurovision Asia brand. They had expected up to 20 countries to participate. Each showcasing the music talents of their best artists from across the region.
Following the announcement of the contest, a flurry of broadcasters confirmed interest in competing. These included broadcasters from Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Therefore, these joined Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Indeed, these six nations had all been touted as possible steering group members or hosts of the contest.
Despite assurances from the EBU that discussions between broadcasters were ongoing and the format was in early development. Over the years it soon became clear the challenges holding such an event would pose. Even the Managing Director of SBS, Michael Ebeid, in 2018 declared it his, “biggest disappointment of his time at Australian broadcaster SBS.” These difficulties were mostly due to the geo-political tensions in the region and logistics of co-operation and time zones.
Yet, in 2019 it seemed the format was back on track. After success in hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast spotted a new opportunity to host a major cultural event. A council meeting from September 2018, revealed proposal ssubmission for the Eurovision Asia Song Contest and the Australia Decides national final formats. Both were presented to the Gold Coast City Council by Blink TV – the production partner of SBS. After which it was confirmed that Blink TV and SBS could develop the Eurovision Asia Song Contest concept. As well as secure a long term investment for the format until 2031.
The contest was due to take place in December 2019 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. The full schedule of the contest and event locations were also announced. With 9 News Gold Coast also revealing further details. Sadly this was not to be.
American Song Contest 2022
Meanwhile there is another new contest in town. Across the pond in America it has been confirmed in recent weeks that broadcaster NBC won the right to host the inaugural American Song Contest. Next year we will see the best from each state and territory fight it out across multiple qualifying rounds, semi-finals and a grand final to be crowned the winner of the first contest!
Were you looking forward to Eurovision Asia? Let us know! Stay up to date by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! As well as subscribing to our YouTube channel. Where you can watch our reactions and videos to all things Eurovision. You can also follow our Spotify for more music from your favourite acts!