Data visualization compares Eurovision winners & runners-up

By Eshan Wickrema and Lachlan James

Is there really such a thing as bad luck? Or is it just a numbers game? In our last Eurovision data blog – Data visualization reveals most unlucky Eurovision nations, we revealed the nations that have experienced the most Eurovision heartache (finishing second).

But have these consistent Eurovision ‘bridesmaids’ also experienced their fair share of success too? Is there a correlation between Eurovision winners and runners-up?

Eurovision runners-up compared to winners by country (1956 – 2014)


Insights

  • Of the 22 Eurovision runners-up, only four have not won the contest at least once (Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, Iceland and Malta)
    • Of the 13 countries to finish Eurovision runners-up multiple times, just two have not won the contest at least once (Iceland and Malta)
  • Of the 26 Eurovision winners, only eight have not been the runner-up at least once (Greece, Austria, Serbia, Estonia, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Finland and Luxembourg)
    • Of the 15 countries to win Eurovision multiple times, just three have not been the runner up at least once (Austria, Greece and Luxembourg)

You win some, you lose some
Using Business Intelligence and data visualization, we can see that, like most things in life, it seems that persistence pays-off at Eurovision. Of the 22 Eurovision runners-up, only four have not won the contest at least once (Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, Iceland and Malta). In line with this pattern, of the 13 countries to finish Eurovision runners-up multiple times, just two have not won the contest at least once (Iceland and Malta).

A similar trend is also evident in the reverse. That is, of the 26 Eurovision winners, only eight have not been the runner-up at least once (Greece, Austria, Serbia, Estonia, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Finland and Luxembourg). Similarly, when assess the 15 countries that have claimed multiple Eurovision titles, just three have never experienced the pain of being the runner-up (Austria, Greece and Luxembourg).

Generally speaking, it seems that there is a strong correlation between winning and almost winning Eurovision. If a country has been able to put in good enough performances to come second, they’ve general been able to conjure a win along the way too. Likewise, countries that have won enough votes to taste Eurovision triumph have also generally fallen agonisingly short as well. But, are there any minor trends we’ve missed?

Eurovision runners-up compared to winners by country: A geographical perspective (1956 – 2014)


Insights

  • Most countries that have won Eurovision have also finished in second place, and vice versa
  • No country in Western Europe has been a Eurovision runner-up and failed to claim a Eurovision crown
  • The center of Europe (encompassing the technical demarcations of Central Europe and Eastern Europe) boasts a strange cluster of countries that have won Eurovision without being runner-up, or have been runner-up without winning

Even-handed Western Europe meets the contrasting fortunes of Central Europe
It seems that countries located in Western Europe were chiefly responsible for the general correlation identified in the above bar charts, where we found that most countries that have won Eurovision have also finished in second place, and vice versa. In fact, no country in Western Europe has been a Eurovision runner-up and failed to claim a Eurovision crown.

However, by contrast, there’s cluster of countries down Europe’s center – including Greece, Serbia, Austria, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Yugoslavia and Malta – that have only ever won, or come runner-up in, Eurovision. Hmmm…

Calling all Eurovision fanatics: If you reckon you’ve got a rational explanation for this pattern (of sorts), we’d love to hear it! Just tweet your response to us @YellowfinBI.

Where to next?

The impact of language has long been a hotly debated topic at Eurovision. So keep your party hats firmly appointed on your bobbling heads, as we assess whether Eurovision contestants that jive, croon and strut their stuff in English really do have the best chance of winning.

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