Eurovision change: Only viewers decide which countries progress to final

Eurovision change: Only viewers decide which countries progress to final
Ukrainian Kalush Orchestra winning the Eurovision song contest in 2022. Credit: Belga

The next Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Liverpool in May and this time, viewers at home will be able to play a greater part in deciding the winner. On Tuesday the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced changes to the voting procedures of the song contest.

From now on, viewers exclusively will decide which countries progress from the semi-finals (each with 10 candidates) to the final. Viewers from non-participating countries will also be able to vote for their favourite candidates. They can do so using a secure online platform and a credit card from their country. Their votes will be converted into points that have the same weight as one participating country in both the semi-finals and the grand final.

Non-participating countries will not be represented by a professional jury. To determine the final result, the balance between jury votes and audience votes tilts slightly to the viewers' side so they account for 50.6% of the votes.

"These changes recognise the show's immense popularity by giving more power to the audience of the world's biggest live music event," said top executive Martin Österdahl.

Österdahl explained that after the irregularities in jury voting at the 2022 festival, "a working group of EBU members was set up to consider how to protect the integrity of the event". Their recommendations were subsequently approved.

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Viewers from participating countries can still vote by text message, by phone and via the app. In the final, the votes of the expert jury (composed of music industry professionals) will be combined with the votes of the viewers as usual.

Alongside Ukraine, the winner of the previous edition, and the so-called "big five" (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), 31 countries will compete for the title. The song contest will be hosted by the British public broadcaster BBC on behalf of Ukraine. The UK finished in second place in 2022.

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