Eurovision: for the TV show, the ticket machine

Something like the World Song Cup, the Eurovision Song Contest (May 7, 9 and 11), fascinates the whole of Europe and beyond. It is even THE night of the year for France Télévisions.

For Benoît Blaszczyk, a 55-year-old maths teacher from Lille, the countdown has begun. From May 7 to 11, the secretary of the French branch of Ogae, the General Organization of Eurovision fans, will be in Malmö, Sweden, to attend the semi-finals and finals of the Eurovision Song Contest as purists say. He wouldn’t have missed the apotheosis of the long process of selecting tunes and artists, which began as soon as Liverpool’s floodlights went out in May 2023, for anything in the world.

It is also the 68th year of this competition, born in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland, at the behest of the head of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Seven European countries then competed in the song under the supervision of 4 million viewers. This year, the stage of the arena in Malmö, where the French artist Slimane will try to perform, will be represented by representatives of 37 member states of the EBU (or affiliated organizations, for example Australia), which brings together 113 public media. seven years after France’s last victory with “L’Oiseau et l’Enfant” sung by Marie Myriam…

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160 million viewers are glued to their screens

As every year, politics got under the shine. Russian, Belarusian and Libyan channels were again not invited. The exclusion of Israel in the war with Hamas has been demanded in vain by some Nordic national broadcasters. The first two songs proposed by Tel Aviv were rejected for too political content – transparent allusions to the massacre committed by the Islamist movement on October 7, 2023.

If conflicts and hatred have not managed Eurovision, it is because this old competition is a hit every spring. Year after year, more than 160 million viewers have remained glued to their screens during the last three editions! In Liverpool last year, viewership on channels broadcasting the final was almost 41%. These figures make it the third largest global event after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Although at home we are less dependent on this competition as cheesy as it is iconic, France 2 viewers are a dream: 3.48 million French people (25.6% market share) in front of their television on the day of the 2023 final, even ahead of competitor “The Voice” on TF1.

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Eurovision is a unique program of its kindit is not comparable to any other show or game. It is the biggest song contest in the world», recalls Alexandra Redde-Amiel, director of entertainment and games at France Télévisions. Which requires a very specific system every year.

“Among under-25s, market share can reach 50%”

For this week’s Eurovision, the public group will send around thirty technicians to the venue, in addition to their home hosts: Laurence Boccolini and Stéphane Bern, who will be joined this year by drag queen Nicky Doll. “This program remains unifying, especially among the under-25s, where market share can reach 50%», specifies Alexandra Redde-Amiel, head of the French delegation at the event.

For France Télévisions, the production budget dedicated to such an evening varies between 700,000 and 1 million euros, depending on the cities where the competition takes place. One of the biggest investments of the year, which unfortunately the group cannot push into advertising spots, because the law prohibits public advertisers after 20:00. “We also use these moments with a beautiful backdrop to film other shows», confides Gaël Chabot, executive director of France TV Studio. “This is not the kind of event that is meant to be lucrative for France TVanalyzes Renaud Kayanakis of Sia Partners. But with video on demand and digital platforms, they can monetize it and it’s not marginal. Generally speaking, this contributes to their strategy of reaching a younger audience..”

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Eurovision, a made-for-television show, nevertheless remains a life-size event. And for the biggest fans, it is better to be patient and participate. On November 28th, Benoît Blaszczyk went online ten minutes before ticket sales began. “Just to see,” he said. He was 275,609th in line… Fortunately, the “packages” are reserved for “Eurofans” (Ogae members). A resident of Lille paid 700 euros for three evenings of crazy choreography and psychedelic costumes. “Prices have fallennotes. In Liverpool it was 1100 euros.»

Bookings have increased sixfold on Airbnb!

The competition is traditionally organized by the winning country of the previous year. And the bill paid by the city, national broadcasters and public channels (like France 2), members of the EBU, can be painful: 60 million euros for Baku in 2012, 45 million in Copenhagen in 2014. So much so that ugly rumors have appeared is going around behind the scenes at Eurovision: some countries would do anything… to avoid winning. However, the competition also generates revenue for the host city. The half a million visitors who flocked to Liverpool last year are said to have spent a further €63m on the banks of the Mersey.

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Eurovision creates a significant economic opportunity for local businesses and hosts», assured Clément Eulry, director of Airbnb France. For Copenhagen and Malmö, which are connected by ferry, bookings on its platform increased sixfold compared to the previous year. Travelers arrive mainly from London, Berlin, Paris, Oslo and Madrid, from low-cost airlines mainly by plane easyJet, official sponsor of Eurovision for the next three years, leased 10% more places to the Danish capital.

Viewers who will be able to meditate on the prediction of a Swiss journalist, co-author of a work on this topic: “One day we will give the Nobel Peace Prize to Eurovision because it is a program that calms people down.»A rare virtue in this time of war at the gates of Europe.

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