The Eurovision Algorithm

By | May 24, 2015

So there was quite a lot (some) of talk last night on the Eurovision algorithm. This was introduced a few years ago to inject some excitement into voting by making it look as if it was wide open for as long as possible.

How does it work? The Friday before the Grand Final they do a dress rehearsal for the main show on Saturday, and it’s this dress rehearsal the forty national juries watch and mark. This mark accounts for 50% of each country’s points allocation – it works a bit like Strictly Come Dancing, the countries are ranked by jury and ranked by the televote, the rankings combined and the top ten are given the points.

The computer whirrs away overnight to come up with the most exciting deliverance of votes possible based solely on the jury vote. This is released on Saturday morning (this means they can finalise a running order/cue-cards and so on).

If the votes from this year’s jury finals were the only ones used, this is how the final voting would go:


As you can see it’s nip and tuck until the 27th set of votes are released which is where Sweden have more than a 12 point lead and then continue to pull away. If the results were given in a completely random order you would expect the gradients to be a bit more fixed, and it would look like Sweden are the winners from much earlier.

However the interest for me is how does the televote affect the result of the algorithm? This is how the results would have played out on the night if the comms didn’t break down:


The pull-away point here is around result 32, the televote added literally 6-7 minutes more excitement and interest. Particularly interesting is that again, if the results were given in a random order you’d expect Sweden to look like clear winners earlier, but because the viewers disagree with the juries Russia pulls well ahead until the jury advantage kicks back in to the Swede’s favour. There will have to be a point where the losers fade away.

Where the public agree with the juries you’d expect it to feel all over a lot earlier, but clearly when there’s a bit of disagreement you get a rather exciting night like last night.

You can check the working on the Excel spreadsheet I made. Euroalgorithm

10 thoughts on “The Eurovision Algorithm

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    Betting fans *may* be able to read something into the results order on Saturday morning, it’s always worth keeping an eye out on when it gets released.

  2. Michael

    Interesting stuff. I’ve not been sold on this algorithm idea ever since it was introduced – no doubt that overall it adds excitement as most people aren’t nerdy enough to a) know about it, and b) infer anything from it, but when you’re aware of it it means that (e.g.) as soon as Sweden started to pull away you knew a surprise comeback was off the cards.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      This is true, the televote would have to differ very wildly from the jury towards the end for any chance of a surprise.

      1. David

        It wouldn’t even be that complex an algorithm – just save the countries where Sweden vastly outscored Russia until last. I get the argument that you want it to be exciting for as long as possible, but it’s not like you need a computer to work stuff like that out.

  3. Chris M. Dickson

    Good work, but – even after having voted for #SWE among others – I reckon it should be renamed the Eurovision Staging Contest. POW!

  4. Alex S

    Now I had assumed that they wouldn’t lock down the results order until after the televote had closed, they will get the full result delivered to the referees before they start the results process so it wouldn’t be too difficult to work out the sequence there and then. Everything for the presenters is done electronically on their podium from the looks of it so there would be no need to print out any physical cards, etc. in that short space of time.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      No, but if you’re dancing around forty different satellite link-ups you’re going to want some semblance of planning.

  5. Alex McMillan

    Just spitballin’: Is this the first time ever a host country has received 0 points? Really incredible stuff happening at the low end of the table this year, Austria AND Germany with 0, have we even had multiple nil points recently?

    1. Nico W.

      I have read that Austria was the first host country to receive nul points, I’m not sure about several countries without points though.

    2. Weaver

      First time a host broadcaster has failed to score ever; the previous low was 1 for TROS (Netherlands) in 1958, back when each jury member gave one point for their favourite entry.

      Last time two entries failed to score was 1997, when entries from RTP (Portugal) and NRK (Norway) got nothing.


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