Eurovision For Beginners – What is Eurovision? A Brief Introduction

The Eurovision Song Contest, often referred to simply as Eurovision, or ESC is an annual song contest. The contest is held amongst countries who are members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The countries eligible to compete opt in and out of the contest as they wish, and their participation is often dependent on the popularity amongst local audiences or monetary funds.

For the countries which choose to participate, their local television broadcasters put forward a song and an artist. This choice is completely up to the broadcaster, who may choose to internally select their act, or hold a national final – but we will get to what that means in the following articles!

From here, the artists and the countries they represent are allocated to a semi-final, and a select bunch of countries called the Big 5 automatically qualify for the final, alongside the host country of that year.

Simply put, these countries and their representatives perform in their allocated semi-final and ten of these countries from each of the two semi-finals qualify to perform again in the grand-final. In total, 26 countries compete in the final – 10 from semi-final 1, 10 from semi-final 2 and the Big 5 + host country.

Qualification into the final, and then picking a winner comes from voting. Voting procedures have changed over time, much like many of the other rules, conditions and procedures. Currently, voting consists of televoting and jury voting, split at 50/50. More detail on the voting procedures will be in our following articles.

Ultimately, the country with the most votes wins the contest. I’ve been asked many times what the prize of winning the contest is – well, it is dissimilar from reality TV programs in the sense that no money is given to the winner. Simply, a trophy is handed to the winner, but the real prize is the honour of winning the contest, and the opportunity to host the show the next year. This may seem insufficient, but there are many benefits for successful artists and countries.

After the winner is chosen, the whole process begins again. Although the show is broadcast over only three nights, usually in May, I truly believe that the Eurovision journey each year doesn’t have a start, and doesn’t have an end. The joy of the contest is that there is always something happening.

Although this is only a very brief introduction, each of these stages of the contest will be explained in more detail as this series progresses. As always, we encourage questions and comments, and we hope you are encourages to learn more about Europe’s favourite contest.