Eurovision 2023 is going to be one of the history books. The 2022 contest winner, Ukraine, will not be hosting in the home country due to the continuing attacks by Russia. Instead, the contest will be held in the runner-up country, the U.K., in Liverpool, as a joint broadcast between the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA: PBC) and the BBC. But that’s not the only significant alteration for this year’s upcoming contest. Once again, the European Broadcast Union (EBU) updates who can vote when and how much the public vote is weighed against the professional juries. But a new addition allows people to vote worldwide, not just in Europe.
The change is mainly due to “irregular voting patterns” in six jury votes identified during the 2022 contest. These irregularities did not change the outcomes of the contest (they occurred in the semi-finals). Still, they did result in jury votes being removed from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and San Marino. The upshot is that juries will not be involved in the semi-finals in the future. The popular vote will exclusively decide those who make it to the Grand Final. As last year, the Grand Final will be a 50/50 split between the popular and jury votes.
But the most significant change is who makes up that popular vote. For the last 66 years, voting has been exclusively the province of those countries competing, making it a European win voted by European viewers. (Well, European viewers, plus Israel and Australia.) But this year, the EBU will open voting to a worldwide audience. Viewers in non-participating countries will not be able to vote via mobile (like people vote via mobile anymore), but you will able to vote online.
Eurovision’s executive supervisor, Martin Österdahl, said in a statement the rule changes were made to reflect the globalization of the event, which is no longer confined to European Broadcast stations. With the advent of streaming, and networks looking to lock down exclusive content, Eurovision is now viewable live on networks like OMNI Television in Canada, streaming services like Peacock in the U.S., and Hunan Television/Mango TV streaming in China. The show is broadcast in nearly 90 countries to a global TV audience of ~160 million.
“Throughout its 67-year history, the Eurovision Song Contest has constantly evolved to remain relevant and exciting,” said Österdahl. “These changes acknowledge the immense popularity of the show by giving more power to the audience of the world’s largest live music event. Everyone watching the show, wherever they live in the world, can cast their votes for their favorite songs.”
However, before fans get too excited, they should note this is also a way for Eurovision to make money. Entry fees have skyrocketed in the last year with the permanent withdrawal of Russia, which was one of the major funders of Eurovision (Though not to the level of the Big 5 countries.) It was confirmed that voting for non-participating countries would not be through Eurovision’s website but via “a secure online platform using a credit card from their country.” The press release did not say whether this was merely a form of identification or if it would charge voters and how much, if it does.
Either way, Eurovision just became that much more of a big deal here in America. The 67th Eurovision Song Contest will broadcast live from Liverpool; the Semi-finals with air/stream on Tuesday, May 9, and Thursday, May 11, and the Grand Finale will air/stream live on Saturday, May 13.