A year after its postponement, the Eurovision Finals return this Saturday (22 May), with European broadcasters anticipating a record-breaking audience for Europe’s live international pop contest.
SBC gets the lowdown on what may well be the bookies most difficult market to price, factoring live contestants’ performances, controversial judging, cultural bias and as always Europe’s conflicting political relationships.
SBC: Following a year of event cancellations and dire Oscars viewing. Will Eurovision 2021 reignite Bookmaker’s entertainment markets?
Harry Aitkenhead (PR Executive @ Coral): We’re really looking forward to Eurovision this year and are confident that punters are too, based off the early bets we have taken. Traditionally it is one of the biggest non-sporting events on our calendar each year, this year on a par with the likes of the London Mayoral election.
The vast array of countries taking part means that there is always value to be had for punters having a flutter and this differs to the Oscars where the smaller fields are often dominated by some very short-priced favourites. Eurovision provides people having a bet with a plethora of countries who are in with a shout of winning and they will get a good run for their money from backing any one of the top ten or twelve countries in the betting.
Another popular bet is the United Kingdom to finish last and we have already this year seen that well-backed, with the odds standing at 2-1 having been cut from 4-1. It will be an awful long time before we see the UK win it again!”
SBC: European broadcasters are expecting a record audience to tune in this Saturday live final – following a traumatic 2020, is Europe in the mood for power ballads, disco anthems or snazzy pop tunes?
Patrick Flynn (Political Analyst @ Smarkets): This year’s Eurovision is the closest in the prediction markets for quite some time. Just days before the final, no entry has more than a 25% chance of winning according to our outright market. This is in contrast to previous years where the market favourites were trading at 49% (Netherlands 2019), 30% (Cyprus 2018) and 45% (Italy 2017).
Currently at the top of our market are contemporary Italian glam rockers Måneskin with a 25% chance, followed by France’s Barbara Pravi at 19% with her Piaf-esque song ‘Voilà’.
In third is the early favourite Destiny from Malta at 15%, and at number four are Go_A from Ukraine, who combine traditional Ukrainian folk music with contemporary electronica to great success. Ukraine have shot up the odds since their semi-final performance on Tuesday, climbing from a 2% chance to 9% in just a few days.
Rounding out the top five is Gjon’s Tears for Switzerland, currently trading at 7%. Switzerland were my early pick to win the contest, though they fell in the odds last week after opting for some unexpectedly avant-garde staging in rehearsals. However, they have climbed back from a low of 4% and certainly remain in contention to take home the trophy on Saturday.
At Smarkets, we’ve put a lot of focus on Eurovision this year and have already had more than 10 times our average trading volume on the contest at this point in the calendar. I’m looking forward to what could be a nail-biting finish on Saturday night!
SBC: Coming into Saturday, Malta ranks as a strong outside favourite to win Eurovision 2021. Can the igaming powerhouse break its duck and be crowned for the first time ever as Eurovision champion?
Anthony Cousins (Head of Sportsbook @ Kindred Group Plc): Eurovision-mad Malta was one of the favourites for the first time in years but has now slipped to third Favourite although are firmly in contention at current odds of 5.50 to be crowned Eurovision winners.
The artist representing Malta is Destiny Chucknyere, who previously achieved glory at the Junior Eurovision Song contest by winning the 2015 edition. She also was part of the Maltese Eurovision team in 2019 as backing vocalist to that year’s entry so has an excellent pedigree.
Her entry this year is titled ‘Je me casse’ and despite the French name, it is an English song that has been well received by many critics and is expected to do very well in the international jury vote.
Its performance with the TV viewers is still to be assessed, we have seen many surprises over the years since the concept of televoting was introduced, but amongst our customers, she has attracted 12% of the bets on the winners market which is more than Italy with 8% (3.75) and France 7% (4.75).
In fact only Switzerland has attracted more bets from our customers with 13% of the bets even though they have higher odds in the market at 13.00 and have been on the drift the last few days.
SBC: Represented by James Newman, will ‘Embers – light up the room’ for Great Britain… Europe’s favourite neighbour?
Paddy Power (Spokesman @ Paddy Power): The United Kingdom’s recent record in the Eurovision Song Contest has been far from inspiring, and the chances of James Newman’s Embers lighting up the room are pretty slim. In fact, we make it 250/1 that he claims this year’s crown, and it’s not even looking likely for a top five finish, with the odds currently at 25/1.
What’s far more realistic though is the chance of the UK ending up with nul points. Newman is as short as 8/1 to fail to score a single point on Saturday night. Ouch.
Favourites, Italy, are 2/1 to win the contest – in from 11/5 yesterday, while France are also a short 3/1, but have drifted slightly from 13/5.
So, it looks like the UK won’t be having much success in Europe this weekend. If only there was some organisation designed to tie the country more closely to Europe to help improve international relations…