Data Visualization reveals advantage of hosting Eurovision

By Eshan Wickrema and Lachlan James

If you follow the Eurovision Song Contest, you’d probably know the nation that claims the annual title then has the privilege of hosting the following year’s event on home soil. So, can we use Business Intelligence and data visualization to assess whether compering countries actually benefit from the experience? Or does the added pressure of a home-crowd performance disadvantage the local talent?

Eurovision host country winners over time (1956 – 2014)


Insights

  • Countries hosting the event have won six of the 59 Eurovision Song Contests to date
    • Despite the large number of countries performing at each contest, the host nation has won nearly 10% of competitions (9.83%)
      • There have been 59 Eurovision Song Contests held, with 62 winners awarded due to the four-way tie in 1969 (Spain, UK, Netherlands and France)

A home ground advantage?
Depending on your interpretation of the numbers, hosting Eurovision may or may not be an advantage. At first glance, it’s easy to suggest that, because the host nation has won six of 59 competitions (9.83%), there’s no real correlation between hosting and winning. However, when you consider the number of countries participating at each tournament, it becomes clearer that hosting Eurovision is no bad thing.

The somewhat nepotistic outcome of the inaugural Eurovision in 1956, where jury members were allowed to vote for their own country and vote in secret, saw hosts Switzerland awarded the first Eurovision crown for Lys Assia’s performance of Refrain. Subsequent competitions forbid voting for ones own country.

From that point on, additional victories by host nations came in 1969 (Spain – 16 countries competing), 1973 (Luxembourg – 17 countries competing), 1979 (Israel – 20 countries competing), 1993 (Ireland – 29 countries competing) and 1994 (Ireland – 25 countries competing). Further, only half (26) of the 52 countries that have participated in Eurovision have won the competition throughout its 59-year history.

However, it’s now been 20 years since a Eurovision host has won. Over that time, the number of other countries participating has also grown markedly. So, does this actually indicate that, in the past, host countries were more likely to win simply because there were fewer countries to compete against?

Number of countries represented at Eurovision over time (1956 – 2015)


Insights

  • First decade of competition, 1956 – 1965: Averaged 13.3 countries per competition, introduced 18 new countries, and had one host nation win the title
  • Second decade of competition, 1966 – 1975: Averaged 16.9 countries per competition, introduced four new countries, and had two host nations win the title
  • Third decade of competition, 1976 – 1985: Averaged 19.1 countries per competition, introduced two new countries, and had one host nation win the title
  • Fourth decade of competition, 1986 – 1995: Averaged 22.9 countries per competition, introduced 11 new countries, and had two host nations win the title
  • Fifth decade of competition, 1996 – 2005: Averaged 26.9 countries per competition, introduced nine new countries, and had no host nation win the title
  • Sixth decade of competition, 2006 – 2015: Averaged 40 countries per competition, introduced eight new countries, and had no host nation win the title (thus far…)

Despite year-to-year fluctuations, it’s clear that the number of countries participating in Eurovision has significantly increased over time, ranging from just seven in 1956 to 40 in 2015 and a high of 43 in 2011. New countries, those that have never previously competed, have been added in 26 of the 60 years of competition to date, with multiple new countries added to the contest on nine occasions (1956, 1957, 1961, 1993, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008).

Interestingly, since Ireland’s back-to-back victory at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest (the biggest influx of debutant nations (7) since the competition began), no host nation has won Eurovision.

In fact, the last two decades has seen multiple competition debutants on four occasions, with the average number of countries competing markedly increasing – especially over the last ten years. As a result of this growth, 2004 saw the largest year-to-year increase in participant nations, going from 25 in 2003 to 35 in 2004. From 2004 onwards, no fewer than 35 countries have participated in the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

With no host nation victories at Eurovision over the past 20 years, the data seems to reflect the fact that it has become statistically harder for each country (including the host) to win on a year-by-year basis due to the increased number of competitors.

Where to next?

So, now that we’ve dismissed hosting as a critical factor affecting Eurovision performance, join us next time as we use Business Intelligence and data visualization to unearth the unluckiest Eurovision nations of all-time.

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