When Change Is Needed

For many, the Eurovision Song Contest has a certain nostalgic value. That explains why one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is; Why all these changes, and not leave everything as it was in the good old times? Especially over the past years, the media landscape has drastically changed. A changing environment with new competition challenged the organisers to make the Eurovision Song Contest bigger and appealing to a broader audience, and especially a new, young generation of TV viewers.

Today, the internet is playing a crucial role in media industries, and moreover, in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. These are developments we, as organizers, have to anticipate on, to secure a healthy contest for the years and decades to come.

In fact, the Eurovision Song Contest has been changing all the time, without changing the basis of challenging those who make and perform music to come up with the best of the best. Several voting methods were used before the famous douze points were introduced in 1975, and the conditions under which the artists perform have changed - but improved!- radically over the past decades.

Disappearance of the orchestra

Until 1998, the contestants performed with a live orchestra during the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1999, it was decided to make the orchestra an optional feature for the Host Broadcaster. Ever since, the organizers decided not to provide an orchestra, and to rely on an instrumental track, to be provided by the participants themselves.

Many ask us; Why did the orchestra disappear from the Eurovision Song Contest?

  • With an orchestra, the already increased production costs would be significantly higher;
  • An orchestra has its limitations when it comes to certain music styles. In the nineties, an increasing part of the music already came from a backing track on request of the participants themselves, supporting the orchestra wherever it wasn´t capable of producing certain sounds or effects;
  • Using an instrumental backing track, the contestants have the absolute freedom to decide what their song should sound like on television, and keep the musical aspect of their entry under full control. This makes the contest more diverse, and the songs more original;

Introducing Semi-Finals

In 2004, the first televised Semi-Final was introduced, to give more countries the opportunity to take part. Another benefit was that each country can take part every year, and no one has to stay home due to disappointing results the year after like before. In 2008, a second Semi-Final was introduced.

First, the Semi-Final was broadcast on Wednesday. Then, as from 2006, the Semi-Final took place on Thursday. When the second Semi-Final was introduced, it was decided to hold it on the Tuesday before the Final, which traditionally still takes place on Saturday.

A major benefit of having Semi-Finals is that the quality of the songs in the Final is the highest possible, as only the best songs manage to qualify.

Did you know that Semi-Finals also took place in 1993 and 1996, but they were not televised? Juries in the participating countries simply listened to the studio recordings of the songs and then awarded them with points.

It's Your Eurovision Song Contest!

The Eurovision Song Contest is a co-production between the European Broadcasting Union and over 40 Member Broadcasters. But it is also your Eurovision Song Contest! Behind the scenes, television professionals from across Europe continuously work on securing a bright future for Europe's favorite TV shows, so that millions can continue to enjoy it for many decades to come.