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The downside of being pre-qualified for the Grand Final

ANALYSIS: If you have heard a song before, you give the song more points. Historically there have been given more points to a song you've heard before in a semi-final than to songs you have not heard before. In fact, the pre-qualified countries every year lose 12 points because of this!

Since 2004 we have had Semi-finals in Eurovision Song Contest. And since then, the "Big-4" and later "Big-5" has been introduced. The large nations are contributing more to the EBU's budget, and therefore the EBU has decided that these countries are automatically qualified for the Grand Final each year. The host country also skips the Semi-finals and is automatically qualified for the Grand Final.

But is this just great for the pre-qualified countries to skip the Semi-finals? Would it be better for all the countries not to be pre-qualified for the Grand Final? If you look at the rankings and the points the countries have received the last eight years, the answer is: Drop the pre-qualifying system, and let's have all countries competing in one of the Semi-finals.

We give more points to songs we have heard before

If you've seen a Semi-final, you are more inclined to give more points to the songs when you hear them again in the Grand Final. If you hear a song for the first time in the Grand Final, statistically you give the song fewer points than if you've heard the song before. The countries that are performing in one of the Semi-finals gets on average 12 points more in the Grand Final every year!

What we've done

All the points to a country in a Grand Final are grouped by:

  • Points from the countries that did participate in the same semi-final
  • Points from countries that did NOT participate in the same semi-final

Lets have a look at Israel 2015 as an example:

Israel took part in Semi-final 2, and qualified for the Grand Final in 2015

  • Israel received 51 points in the Grand Final from the 16 countries that did take part in Semi-final 2 together with Israel
    = average 3.19 points per country.
  • Israel received 46 points in the Grand Final from the 23 countries that did NOT take part in Semi-final 2
    = average 2.00 points per country.
  • So Israel received on average 1.19 (3.19 - 2.00) points more in the Grand Final from Semi-final 2-countries than from the other countries.

We have measured the average of the songs and points in the Grand Final, by how many points they have gained from countries that participated in the same semi-final, and countries that did not participate in the same semi-final.

YearAverage points in Grand FinalDifference
 countries from
same Semi-final
countries not from
same Semi-final

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