Eurovision on a Financial Diet for 2013

Costs of Hosting  Eurovision since 2007. (Photograph Courtesy of Wallstreet Journal)

Costs of Hosting Eurovision since 2007. (Photograph Courtesy of Wall Street Journal)

“Eurovision is on a Financial Diet due to the spending spree’s or earlier hosts like Moscow, Düsseldorf and Baku – who were all trying to out do each other with who has the most lights and LED screens. Let’s take a look at that statement” according to the Wall Street Journal. As you can see it is estimated that last year Eurovision cost the Azeri National Broadcaster €35 Million Euro to produce the show.

Azerbaijan reconstructed a large part of Baku for Eurovision 2012. (Photograph courtesy of GamesBids)

Azerbaijan reconstructed a large part of Baku for Eurovision 2012. (Photograph courtesy of GamesBids)

Now one needs to look at this cost. A lot of it was used for the building of infrastructure and completely rebuilding the stadium – the Crystal Hall. Millions was also put into the construction of roads and transport links. This money had been planned by the Azeri government for infrastructure over the next 5 years. Winning Eurovision made them bring that budget forward. However what is the legacy of this spend? Well it saw Baku shortlisted for the Olympic Games and they will be hosting the Women’s World Cup where their Eurovision investment will see returns to the National Broadcaster and economy. 

The Moscow Eurovision Stage 2009. (Photograph courtesy of blondesearch)

The Moscow Eurovision Stage 2009. (Photograph courtesy of blondesearch)

As for Russia – money was never going to be a problem for the National Broadcaster. Again a considerable amount of their budget was used on the Stadium reconstruction and infrastructure improvements. Yes by all means their stage was one of the biggest LED experiences in live broadcasting history. Oslo the following year scaled back the budget to almost half that of Moscow. Did that meet with disapproval? 

So what of SVT and Malmo this year? Well they estimate to spend €15 Million Euro on staging Eurovision. Well this figure sounds pretty much right to us. What the Wall Street Journal failed to recognise is that SVT has Melodifestivalen (Swedish National Eurovision Selection) already in place. This (since 2002) sees SVT travel to 6 city destinations over 6 consecutive weekends for their national heats. The Malmo Arena – Eurovision Stage 2013 – was already one of Melodifestivalen’s stadiums this year. So they have a fully functional arena there that is completely prepped for Events like Eurovision already.

The Malmo Eurovision Stage for 2013 - Photograph courtesy of SVT

The Malmo Eurovision Stage for 2013 – Photograph courtesy of SVT

Malmo itself is a modern city with excellent infrastructure – sure they even built a bridge that will take you to Copenhagen in 15 minutes. So the costs will be reduced on this front. The Wall Street Journal says that SVT will slash the budget of Baku by “using a smaller venue, fewer lights and less media fanfare. The goals: to survive in a tough economy, reignite the interest of nations hobbled by fiscal cutbacks—and in the process, create a more intimate affair that returns the focus to the music itself.”

Well if there is one country that uses fanfare to sustain their national Eurovision selection – it is Sweden. However one must remember that Eurovision is one of the worlds most watched events with viewing figures approximately 125 million. So I am sure that all countries want to portray their nation in the best light. 

“It has become more of a technology arms race—who has the biggest LED screen, the most cameras,” said Christer Björkman, Eurovision show producer for Swedish public broadcaster SVT. Mr. Björkman’s  work has revolutionised Melodifestivalen and Eurovision in Sweden. He did say to the Wall Street Journal that he “saw things get particularly out of hand in Düsseldorf (2011) and Moscow (2009), where show organizers insisted that wide camera angles almost always be used in order to show off the majesty of the stage. In Moscow, the ambitious stage design centered around more than 21,500 square feet of LED screens, roughly equivalent to half an acre.”

There is a flip side to this according to some fans in Sweden. They understand the need to look at costs but in the same breath they are worried that the Eurovision Contest from Sweden will look small and somewhat amateur in comparison to their predecessors. One of the Senior Heads of the Swedish Eurovision National Fan Club (OGAE) Bengt-Urban Fransson said in interview that he agreed with cost control but that was concerned that “There’s a risk it could feel a bit low-budget.”

Eurovision stage 1997 by RTE - Photograph Courtesy of EurofanMadrid

Eurovision stage 1997 by RTE – Photograph Courtesy of EurofanMadrid

It is hoped that if Sweden and SVT produce a high quality yet low costing show that it will calm the nerves of money strapped countries whom have withdrawn this year citing financial constraints – Poland, Portugal, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovakia. As Jan Ola Sand – EBU Executive Supervisor – said that they don’t want Host Broadcaster “to bleed to death”. 

What do you think? Is SVT cutting back too much on the budget for Eurovision or are they right to do so in this economic era? How did RTE manage to host 4 Eurovision’s over 5 years in the 1990’s and manage not to collapse? Before anyone says to us – but Eurovision was smaller back then – yes we know but also remember that the show was seen by 300 million back then and not 125 million now. So what is the best road for Eurovision going forward? 

Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall

Source – Wall Street Journal/EBU and SVT

5 replies »

  1. That is not true that Azerbaijan reconstructed a large part of Baku!!! Only one new part of Baku seaside boulevard has been built in order to connect old boulevard with Christal Hall!

  2. I don’t like it when the stage is too large and we lose the artists also too many wide angles and long shots ruin it imo. I really hope the Swedish producers keep to their promise and make it more intimate and we get more up close and personal shots of the artists performances. One other thing, where did the other 175 million viewers disappear to? That’s a hell of a drop in viewing figures.

  3. For me the German show was possibly the best. Had doubts after the botched Danish lets-convert-a-stadium idea, but Dusseldorf showed it could be done well with great production and full of energy (Baku was soulless)! Oslo was superb and showed what could be done on a small budget. Although I am biased, Dublin ’94 and ’95 were exceptional for its time and budget. I would really love to see Dublin host soon, I think the contest would be brought in a badly needed new direction, maybe a u-turn back to its roots with a 21st century twist!!

  4. I have been thinking for years that organisers were putting way too much money on the show whereas it is only a song show. So finally the Swedes did it and that’s for the better. I want little broadcasters to beable to host in the future with no worrying about the phenomenal costs. Russia, Azerbaidjan and Germany did it because they have the money. Others countries do not have to spend so much for a song show.

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