This year’s contest was a roaring success both in terms of organisation, the general musical quality and standard of many entries. The viewing figures just released by the EBU for this year’s contest are also being hailed as a viewing triumph.
Both semifinals and the grand final were watched by a total of 108 million viewers; although this is an impressive figure it is however worth noting that the total number of viewers is down considerably on last years contest, where no less than 124 million viewers followed the final from Moscow. NRK however are extremely pleased with the result; head of communications at NRK Sigurd Sandvin stated that he was "thrilled with the figures, and was glad to see that the positive trend from previous years was continued in 2010. In addition to this, NRK’s employees produced high quality broadcasts that made for fantastic and entertaining viewing, so you could say the project was a success in every sense of the word", he concluded. The grand final was the TV programme of choice for 69 million viewers throughout Europe on the 29th may.
One of the conclusions as to why there was such a marked decline in viewing figures is that a larger number of the Russian public presumably tuned in to watch the contest from their home country last year, curious to see the event. Another reason behind the decline in viewing figures is that this year’s contest was broadcast two weeks later than last year’s final. This year’s figures remain stable compared to figures for those who watched the broadcast both in 2007 and 2008.
This year’s contest was a noteable triumph with regards to public viewing figures in Australia too, where just under 1,5 million Australians tuned in to follow the event. This is no mean feat considering that they don’t even participate in the competition. The most probable explanation for the Australian love affair with the Eurovision Song Contest is the diversity of the population and that many of the country’s 22.5 million inhabitants have European heritage and therefore tune in to see how their ancestral home fares in the competition. Audience figures from overseas territories outside of Europe are not incorporated into the figures released by the EBU.
In my view
Despite the stability of viewing figures for the last few years, what concerns me more is the fact that the Eurovision Song Contest has lost a great deal of viewers since its broadcast heyday in the 1980’s. Back then viewing figures were regularly quoted as being as high as 500-600 million viewers. Whether or not these figures were exaggerated by the host broadcaster is of course a possibility, but nevertheless, there is no denying that the contest’s popularity has waned over the years. What other underlying factors can have contributed to the erroding of viewing market shares over the past 20 years? That the contest is not in touch with and fails to represent the tastes of the modern popular music industry is a claim that has been voiced on many occasions.
Perhaps countries should start to take the contest seriously (take note, BBC in particular!) and instead make a serious effort to attract well known and established artists to represent the participating broadcasters, thus generating public interest. Is the contest still musically relevant? This year saw a welcome number of countries actually putting a great deal of time and money into the selection of their entry, and the fact that the top 5 more or less consisted of modern, contemporary entries should not go unnoticed by broadcasters and lessons should be learnt before the 2011 contest from Germany.The opinion expressed in "In my view" are those of the author and are not necessarily the one of EuroVisionary.com.