The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has today announced a significant change to the way the Eurovision Song Contest will work from 2023 and onwards. The semifinalist qualifiers will be decided purely by the public vote from the competing nations and a newly created Rest of the World voting category. In the Grand Final, the professional juries will return to combine with the viewer votes to decide the final result.
This is the first change to the voting system to decide qualifiers since 2009, when the EBU first combined the jury and televote to decide who would compete in the Grand Final.
Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Martin Österdahl, said today:
Throughout its 67-year history the Eurovision Song Contest has constantly evolved to remain relevant and exciting. These changes acknowledge the immense popularity of the show by giving more power to the audience of the world’s largest live music event.Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor
Changes have been a long time in coming
One of the reasons given by the EBU in making these changes is to combat the unprecedented number of voting irregularities which took place at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. A working group of EBU members was established to look at ways that the integrity of the vote could be protected and these recommendations have been implemented by the EBU with these changes.
Whilst the jury vote will not be counted in the semifinals, they will still be asked to vote by the EBU in order to provide a backup vote in case a valid televote is not recorded or possible in a competing country.
Eurovision also wants to enhance its newly-found global status and increase the interest in the Contest from around the World further. Anyone watching in a non-competing country will now be able to vote by credit card online for their favourites. So from Bulgaria to Vanuatu, Argentina to the United States, anyone will be able to have their vote counted. The Rest of the World votes will be combined altogether to create a set of points with the same weight as one competing country in both semifinals and the Grand Final.
The decision to include a Rest of the World vote now affects the 50/50 percentage balance between Jury and Televote. It will now be a 49.4% jury and 50.6% televote scoring system in the shows.
A full list of eligible countries who can vote online will be published near the time of the event, and the Voting Partner for the EBU will ensure that only these audiences are the ones allowed to vote online – this has been a requirement stipulated by the Reference Group – and therefore it is unlikely that viewers in Russia or Belarus will be able to vote, but not yet confirmed.
Jury remains due to scoring presentation and benefits to scoring individually
The EBU has also been very clear that the jury vote remains crucial in the Eurovision Song Contest for two clear reasons: one is that jurors rank the songs in order of preference, allowing each song an individual moment to shine and to be considered qualitatively as opposed to the way in which televoters can vote up to 20 times for their favourite(s) in a non-sequential way.
The other is that the jury vote allows the EBU to continue with “uniting” all participating countries on air with spokespeople delivering votes from their nation directly to the competing finalists. It is also clearly stated that the jury vote helps “mitigate the diaspora and cultural voting” which has already been reduced by 50% in the semifinals due to the allocation draw which separates countries with similar voting records into the two different semifinals.
Keeping this on-screen presentation of jury votes also allows the EBU to retain the much-loved voting sequence during which we only know who has won the Eurovision Song Contest at the very end of the show, following the presentation of the highest televote score.
So if we apply this new voting system to previous years, how much changes?
One of the reasons why the EBU has been confident in applying this voting system is the lack of significant impact on qualifying countries in using this system between 2017 and 2022. The EBU states “in nearly all cases, when removing the Jury votes from the calculation, 9 out of 10 qualifying countries from the semifinal stayed the same”. The song that qualified in the previous voting system went on to finish towards the bottom of the scoreboard in the Grand Final regardless, and so the changes should not impact the selection of finalists in an unprecedented way.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 takes place in Liverpool, United Kingdom, on behalf of Ukraine, on the 9th, 11th and 13th May.
Kalush Orchestra won the 2022 Contest, held in Turin, Italy, with “Stefania” and have performed across the continent at festivals and award shows since their victory, in a similar way to the success we saw Måneskin achieve in 2021.
We want to hear your thoughts on these changes to the voting system. Let us know if you think this will benefit or impact the contest in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA on Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Mastodon and YouTube.