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Subtle but significant: EBU changes weight of individual jury rankings

27 April 2018 at 13:45 CEST
The 1957 presenter and her "assistant" during the voting HR/ARD
In yet another step to improve the voting at the Eurovision Song Contest, this year’s jury voting will see a subtle but significant change in the weight of an individual judges’ ranking. The aim: To place the judgment of a group of jurors above the opinion of a single individual juror.

Until last year, the 1 to 8, 10 and 12 points of each national jury were awarded by simply taking the sum of all ranks and awarding 12 points to the song that was ranked best on average.

Occasionally, the ranking of individual jury members differed significantly from the other four judges, which could have had a disproportionate impact on the points given by that country's jury as a whole. This is also called the 'linear weight model', whereby each ranking of each juror has the same impact. For example, if four jurors would rank a song first, while the fifth juror ranked that same song last, that could prevent that song from receiving 12 points from the respective national jury.

Voting in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest will include a subtle but significant change. Rather than giving each rank given by a juror the same weight, the EBU will allocate predefined 'score values' to each ranking position, thereby increasing the value of the top-10 ranks, the top-3 in particular. These score values start with the value of 12 for the first rank and will decrease exponentially further down the ranking list. This is also called the 'exponential weight model'. The sum of the scores for all 26 songs from the five jurors will create the national jury result where the resulting top 10 ranked countries will be awarded that jury’s 12, 10, 8 points and so on. 

In other words; the lower a juror ranks a song, the smaller the impact of that ranking on the overall result, while the higher a juror ranks a song, the more impact that ranking will have.

The below graph visualizes the new model:

With this change, the value of the group of jurors gets priority over the opinion of a single individual juror. This change also strengthens the value of a top-10 ranking, without completely discarding the ranking beyond the top-10, like the jury voting method until 2012.

The change was already decided upon by the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group in January. The Reference Group is the contest’s governing body on behalf of all 43 Participating Broadcasters.

"After each contest, we evaluate whether we can take steps towards strengthening the voting procedure. Sometimes these changes are big, sometimes they are small. With this change in how the jury score is calculated, we ensure that the songs ranked best are getting recognised accordingly and that the opinion of a group of jurors is valued higher than that of a single individual.” says Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the EBU.

"The change announced today has no impact on the logistics of the jury voting," Sand concludes. With five jurors in each of the 43 participating countries, a total of 215 music industry professionals have to physically gather two nights in one week, under supervision of a notary, to judge the entries in one of the two Semi-Finals and the Grand Final.

The different calculation method will not impact the way the votes are being presented. The balance between juries and televoters will remain 50/50. The names of the judges for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest will be revealed on on Monday, 30th of April, at 12:00 CEST.

Over the past decade, the Eurovision Song Contest has gone through numerous changes in the voting system and rules. In 2009, after relying on 100% televoting for a decade, the EBU decided to give music industry professionals a 50% stake in the result. As of 2013, judges were asked to rank all songs, rather than just awarding points to their top-10. Since 2016 the jury and televoting results are being presented separately, marking the biggest change in voting presentation at the contest since 1975.