Eurovision week arrives once a year in the second week of May, come hell or high water, and in some cases, war. The music competition, which is supposed to represent a peaceful Europe where the only nationalist conflict is who sang best, is being held for the first time while an actual land war between two of its members is ongoing. Despite claiming an apolitical nature, the event has taken on a more prominent role in the public imagination since Ukraine's entry will be viewed through a lens of what its people are enduring.
Despite its Eurocentric nature, the competition has aired in the U.S. since 2015, first on Viacom's little-watched Logo cable channel, reflecting its history as a staple of LGBTQ+ culture since its debut in the 1950s. Netflix hinted at picking the competition up in 2020, going as far as making a Eurovision Song Contest film (Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens is in it), the release of which should have coincided with that year's broadcast. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused the competition to be canceled for the first time in its 60+ year history. When it returned in 2021, Eurovision did indeed move to streaming, but to NBC Universal's Peacock, which will broadcast the 2022 competition again this year.
Those who have VPN'd the competition back in the era before it broadcast are probably used to the main feed, where the only hosts are the ones on stage from the country holding that year's competition. But those who watch via the BBC feed, France Télévisions, or RAI in Italy know that each national broadcast provides its hosts, who usually talk over the main feed's hosts and contextualize the different entries for those at home. Graham Norton, for example, does the Grand Final on BBC One, while the semis have revolving hosts on BBC Three. For Americans, this year's host will be fan-favorite NBC commentator and all-around fabulous former ice skater Johnny Weir.
Weir will host all three broadcasts for Peacock, starting with Tuesday's first Semi-Final, and like Norton, will not have a co-hos. Instead, Peacock will follow the BBC Grand Final format, popping in between performances to fill audiences in on who is performing for each country and fun facts that might make some of the stranger entries make sense for those who are watching for the first time. (The semi-finals usually have two hosts in the U.K., who turn the experience into more of a watch-along with knowledgable friends who won't stop talking experience.)
The two Semi-Finals consist of 17 and 18 countries, respectively. (It would have been 18 and 18, but Russia was disinvited after the invasion of Ukraine.) The Top Ten from each round move on to the Grand Final along with the group known as "The Big Five," aka the main sponsors of Eurovision, who get a direct pass to the Grand Final. Tuesday's first Semi-Final features (in alphabetical order) Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
Thursday's second Semi-Final will include Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, and Sweden. The Big Five joining the twenty countries who move to Saturday's Grand Final are Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. (Usually, this is actually the Big Six since the Host country also gets a free pass, but Italy is hosting this year.) I'm personally rooting for Norway, Estonia, France, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova, Serbia, Israel, Ireland, and Armenia. Sorry anglophiles, the U.K. entry, "TikTok sensation" Sam Ryder, is godawful and will probably come in last.
The complete playlist of all 40 entrants is on YouTube. Eurovision will stream live on Peacock on Tuesday, May 10, Thursday, May 12, and Saturday, May 14, starting at 3 p.m. ET/12noon PT (9 p.m. CET), and will be available for replay directly following.