The biggest change to the points system at the Eurovision Song Contest since 1975 has just been announced by the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), the organisation that’s been responsible since 1956 for the annual song competition in which Australia will take part for a second time in Stockholm this May.
By
Tim Fisher

18 Mar 2016 - 4:02 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2016 - 4:02 PM

The current system of points (1-8, then 10 and 12) awarded by each of the participating countries, 43 of them this year, since 1975, remains unaltered. However, the current averaging out of the points awarded by each country’s professional jury (50%) and those awarded by the viewing public (50%) by phone and text message will end.

The current averaging out of the points awarded by each country’s professional jury (50%) and those awarded by the viewing public (50%) by phone and text message will end.

More points, more tension

As tradition requires, the 43 countries will first present their points separately, only now these will be the 1-8, 10 and 12 points of the professional juries alone. The points of the ‘televoters’ in all 43 countries to the ten songs they like most will be added together, and the totals per country presented in one go in an additional and final round of points. The presentation of these points totals will start with the song ranked lowest by viewers in Europe, Israel and Australia, and end with the top-ranked song.

The change will not mean, as has been rumoured, an even longer and more tedious process, with each country presenting two sets of points live on air. But it does mean that the total number of points awarded will be double that awarded under the old system. The winning score in 2016 could, in theory, be as high as 700 to 800 points.

It means that the total number of points awarded will be double that awarded under the old system. The winning score in 2016 could, in theory, be as high as 700 to 800 points.

All the points first, then ‘We have a winner’

The reason for the change? To avoid the situation that has presented itself in recent years whereby the winner of the contest has been clearly known long before the final country has voted. With the new system, the jury-votes will account for just 50% of the total on the board at the end of the night. This means that, after the jury votes of the 43 countries are known, there will still be another 50% left to come, making it impossible to know at that stage which song has won.

The announcement of the points from the ‘global’ viewing public will add a few extra minutes to the contest, but should also mean that the identity of the winner won’t be clear until towards the end – if not the very end – of the show.

Profs v. Viewers

Interestingly, the end to the averaging of the points awarded by the public and the professional juries also means that differences between the two will now actually be reflected in the final scores.

In 2015, for example, Australia’s televoters placed the UK 9th, while the 5 members of the country’s professional jury ranked the British song 18th. The result was ‘zero points’ for the UK from Australia. Under the new system, Australia would have awarded no points to the British song in the on-air announcement of the country’s points, but would have added 2 points to the UK’s score in the final round of ‘viewer’ points.

In the case of Azerbaijan, Australia’s points in 2015 would have been 5 from the professional jury (which placed the song 6th), but zero from the viewing public who actually ranked that song last out of the 26 in the final.

Similarly, the Australian jury would have awarded Russia its 12 points if the new system had applied in 2015, while the great Australian public’s 12 points would have gone to the actual winner: Sweden. As it was, the 50-50 system used in 2015 did see Australia’s ‘douze points’ go to the Swedish song Heroes, sung by Måns Zelmerlöw.

So how will the Australian public vote?

Immediately after the 2016 song contest, people will be able to see how their own and other countries’ televoters awarded their 1-8, 10 and 12 points on the song contest website (www.Eurovision.tv), where you’ll also find the split and total votes of all the countries that took part in Australia’s Eurovision debut contest in 2015.