It has been over a week since Junior Eurovision took place in the capital of Malta, Valletta, so now we have had time to process the contest and how it all planned out. The contest did some things right, and some things wrong, so we want to discuss both sides of the story to work out where the contest can go from here.
Things we loved about Junior Eurovision 2016:
What stands out the most for me personally is the talent of the young stars. Over the last two or three years, we’ve seen a really huge jump in the styles of music and singers we are seeing being entered in the contest. Every song was absolutely in it to win it, and the effort shows.
What we also love was the comradery between all the participants. Through the backstage material on the official YouTube channel, and even throughout the show, you could see that everyone is friends with each other, and there’s no bitterness to see the other acts win, as everyone is friends. If you follow any of the participants on Instagram, you’ll also see that even though the contest is over, they all still like and comment on each other’s pictures, which is super cute.
Regarding the voting, which I discuss further below, I think splitting the vote into the kids and adults juries was good, and how the kids votes were presented really added to the suspense of the show (if we discount the fact that Valerie completely messed it up at the end and revealed the number for Armenia). Presenting votes like that in Eurovision and Junior Eurovision alike is really a revolutionary thing for Eurovision, as it essentially stops viewers from turning off before the final second of the show.
Things we didn’t love about Junior Eurovision 2016:
One of the most crucial elements of Eurovision and Junior Eurovision lies within the fact that audiences at home can participate through televoting. This is absolutely a cornerstone of the modern contest, so the fact that they decided to take that away I think was absolutely the wrong choice. Of course, I can see the reasoning behind the choice, as the ratings for the contest weren’t strong enough to get a reasonable amount of votes in (especially from Australia, where the contest is broadcast live in the early hours of the morning), but essentially, by taking away the audience involvement, you’re taking away the need for the audience to even tune in to the show. Replacing televoting with just sending in tweets, of which about 3 or 4 were read throughout the show is absolutely an unreasonable substitution, and this was definitely represented in the viewing figures for the show. The official channel of Junior Eurovision on YouTube reached record views of the contest, however on television, many nations had a significant decrease in the viewers in relation to previous years, and I really think this is relevant to the lack of public voting.
The lack of viewers may also be relevant to the change of timeslot, and although I can’t say this was straight out a bad decision, any change will have some sort of an impact, and judging by viewing figures, it didn’t really do the contest any favours.
Other than the actual performances from the competitors, I think the contest came across as really dull and awkward on screen. The hosts were unenergetic, and the postcards were really horrendous. What really confused and bothered me was featuring dancers in the background while the hosts spoke. Why? There was no music. They were dancing to no music for no reason! It was all just really clunky and looked unprepared and unengaging. I think the arena was probably a little too small, and the audience… well… the audience couldn’t have looked more bored if they tried. I also found it really disgraceful to hear booing from the audience at certain points of the show. It’s a kids show, it’s meant to be light-hearted and fun so to hear booing was incredibly shocking and disappointing.
Overall, I think some of the changes made to the contest were in one word, wrong. The loss of televoting, if that decision is continued, is going to really impact on the future of the contest. Having little to no audience participation is going to keep sending the viewer numbers lower and lower until the contest is no longer, which I think would be incredibly sad. Even sadder after the work that the former supervising team put in over the last few years to get the participation numbers up after the contest was barely receiving enough interest to actually run the contest.
I will be interested to see how the contest develops, and although the future of the contest is somewhat questionable, I really do hope all the issues can be ironed out and the format can be refined to create success for Junior Eurovision in the future.