Bookies Corner – Eurovision 2016 – More than a song contest!

Eurovision, a live pan-continental pop contest with a viewership of + 250 million which sees national audiences vote on their favourite performers, may well be betting’s most exciting novelty market!

Ahead of this Saturday’s live final, SBC’s ‘Bookies Corner’ delves into the market intricacies of Eurovision 2016. Getting the full low-down from:

  • Mirio Mella – Customer Engagement Manager- Pinnacle Sports
  • Ed Nicholson  – Head of Unibet UK
  • Alan Alger – Head of PR Betway
  • Naomi Totten – PR Manager – Betfair

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SBC: As the only pan-international pop song contest, what makes Eurovision such an interesting and unique market? 

Mirio Mella, Pinnacle Sports
Mirio Mella, Pinnacle Sports

Mirio Mella: Figuring out what makes Eurovision so popular among bettors is as hard as predicting the winning act. On the face of it, betting on the relative merits of obscure European pop offerings doesn’t sound like it would float bettors’ boats. It is however, surprisingly popular with bettors at Pinnacle Sports, and probably because it is more than the sum of its parts.

The Eurovision Song Contest winner has traditionally been determined by a combination of tele-votes and five jury members for each participating country.

This year’s song competition features 43 countries, the special guest appearance of Australia and a completely overhauled voting system, adding a whole new level of interest for Eurovision bettors.

In an attempt to break down political alliances, the new voting method puts the power back in the hands of the public, with the song that will be favoured by public voters guaranteed to receive 12 points, irrespective of the jury’s score.

This might make it slightly more difficult to call the winner, so if you are one of the growing number of Eurovision fans who like to bet on the contest, following the odds movement at Pinnacle Sports all the way to the Grand final on 14 May will be a good indicator. Russia are current favourites at 3.20*.

And if you are wondering whether a gimmick or a credible song is more likely to attract attention this year, looking at the previous year’s runner-up is always a good benchmark.

SBC: How do bookmakers counter controversial ‘regional block voting’ for Eurovision in their betting markets?

Ed Nicholson, Unibet
Ed Nicholson, Unibet

Ed Nicholson: Social media and internet fan forums are your best tools! There are plenty of fan communities online where we can access expert opinion, and we take them on board when pricing up the event.

Unibet’s market team also takes into account social media indicators, as to how an act will perform come the live final. We look at how the acts video has performed in terms of views and coverage on Youtube, the acts twitter following etc…

Judging the impact of ‘block voting’ is complicated process, so trading teams pay close attention to Eurovision historical trends…‘who votes for who?’.

Belarus, for example has given more than double the amount of points to Russia than to any other country, while over 33% of their points have gone to either Russia or Ukraine.

In a normal year, everyone knows that Greece and Cyprus will swap points! Cyprus has awarded almost three times as many points to Greece than its next country, while Greece has presented Cyprus with twice as many points than any other country! Given that Greece haven’t made the final this year, expect Cyprus’ points tally to be lower than usual.

There are other blocks that we all need to be aware of, mostly due to geographical proximity. The Balkans seem to give points to each other; the Eastern European states that used to make up the Soviet Union share points, and the Scandinavians seem to stick together

The United Kingdom and Ireland also seem to be very generous to each other, and Malta give (and receive) more points to (from) both Ireland and UK juries that maybe could be expected.

SBC: Eurovision sees many heavily backed contenders from individual member states. When pricing the market how do you effectively asses Eurovision entrants and their chances of winning?

AlanAlgerBetway
Alan Alger – Betway

Alan Alger: With a host of unknown artists performing songs in a variety of languages, the Eurovision Song Contest is undoubtedly a tricky one to price. However, it’s certainly one that punters enjoy and Betway are sure to take a few bets on the outcome.

One of the first things to look at is whether nations have any pedigree in the competition. Ireland have an unrivalled seven wins and the UK, France and Luxembourg all have five wins each. But none of those nations have won the coveted singing award since 1997 and the appetite for victory in certain countries has lessened.

Sweden have won two of the last four Eurovsions and, inspired by 1974 winners ABBA, usually play a strong hand – we make the Swedes 10/1 for this year’s event. Scandinavia as a whole are responsible for five of the last 10 winners and are always worth a second check in the betting.

Eastern Europe has been a breeding ground for success of late. Since 2000, Russia have been runners-up on four occasions and won it in 2008. Their entry this year, Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One, has been met with great acclaim in rehearsals and has subsequently been backed from 2/1 into odds-on 10/11 over the last week – we make him the one to beat.

Naomi Totten, Betfair
Naomi Totten, Betfair

SBC: The UK’s recent Eurovision performances have been abysmal, what hopes do Joe & Jake having of restoring UK pop pride? 

Naomi Totten: The UK rarely manage to stir up any optimism amongst punters with their Eurovision entry. Electro Velvet were 66/1 in 2015, Bonnie Tyler was 50/1 in 2013 and Joe & Jake are no exception going into the contest as an 80/1 long shot.

Molly Smitten-Downes came the closest in the betting in 2014 after being backed to 10/1 by Betfair punters only to finish an anticlimactic seventeenth. Sweden are definitely the ones to get behind at 14/1; they’ve been on a big drift in the market since the Melfest final due in part to Frans’ draw as 9th in the final. Frans’ slow singing style has seemingly divided opinion but the people who like it, love it.

The best bet on the UK would be in the head-to-head markets where they’re favourite to beat Ireland…that or 7/1 for any country to be a awarded null points!

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