The United Kingdom, on the face of it, holds the Eurovision Song Contest with low regard. Indeed, at Eurovision’s 60th Anniversary Conference I attended in April I over heard a British guest saying that the ‘high classes of the UK look down upon the show’. I wanted to find out if the British really are as disinterested about the event as they seem so I conducted my own Eurovision survey of the British public which you may have seen shared on our social networking pages.
Every year it is estimated 180 million people tune into the contest, via their TV sets, globally. The 2014 Eurovision final in Sweden had 83.2% of the market share of viewers which totals a massive 3.4 million people, and to think they still have to go through the qualifying rounds to even get to the main event! Whilst records were broken in the Netherlands last year, undoubtedly buoyed by the success of singer Anouk in 2013. The 2014 contest brought in 5.1 million people watching from Holland, up 300,000 over the previous year.
The results to my questions, which you can access here, reveal the British public have a floating interest in the show. 55% of the of people asked said they may give the final a few minutes come May the 23rd, so the act they tune into better be good to retain the British viewership!
30% knew Conchita Wurst won last years show yet most admitted they hadn’t watched the show in its entirety. When looking at Austria’s increase in viewing figures and my survey’s results it seems in order to gain viewers the chosen act for your respective country, to put it bluntly, needs to be good. In 2014 the UK sent singer Molly who failed to impress finishing 17th with 40 points. To compare her to a Premier League football team she is Sunderland, floating near the bottom of the table.
Question 3’s results were unanimous. Only 20% of those asked said they had watched over 5 Eurovision Song Contests in past ten years whilst 70% revealed they had only watched 1-5 shows in that time frame. Although it is unclear the reasons why the UK appears to have sporadic viewers. A Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) survey suggests that British viewership of the show from 2008-2014 ranged from 5 million to a whopping 9 million people with an average 7.9 million viewers per year for the past 7. Despite my results the 2014 show had one of the largest viewership’s in the past decade pulling in over 9 million watchers, like in 2011. 2011 was a good contest for the UK. Boy Band, Blue, who have collaborated with the likes of Elton John and Stevie Wonder, pulled in a 100 votes and finished in a respectable 11th place so with an act that could compete around 40% of market share in the UK tuned in to the contest.
Whilst the future of the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest looks bleak, according to my survey. When asked if we can win the competition in the next ten years 0% said we can whilst 60% hinted that we will not, despite coming from a country that produced the Beatles! The final question was telling. 50% of voters said they haven’t heard the UK’s 2015 entry and only have plans to hear it on the night and 30% said they have no plans to ever hear it. Although last year’s show reached a hefty audience of nearly ten million, in this country, it seems, that the public’s imagination needs to be captured to entice Brits as the show has little to offer is in way of entertainment otherwise. It is likely the flamboyance of Conchita Wurst was the main reason for the surge in the numbers whilst this year’s entry Electro Velvet were selected without facing a public vote like they do in Sweden. Although of course we do not know how our entry this year will perform in the voting nor how many people will tune in from the UK on the 23rd but perhaps we should consider reverting to a public voting system again when choosing our act. Engaging and capturing the public from an early stage and choosing acts of a good pedigree may lead to more viewers and renewed hope of a British victory.
Finally, thank you to all who took part in the vote!