The Eurovision Corner at ABBA The Museum in Stockholm. Photo Credit AleWi [CC0]

Celebration or Cage Match? What Eurovision Teaches us about the Audience for Global Content.

Martin Karaffa

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At first glance, it looks like an odd creative choice. Will Ferrell plans to make a movie about the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ferrell’s Swedish wife introduced him to the event in 1999, and he quickly became a fan. Few Americans share his passion. In 2018, the Eurovision coverage on LogoTV attracted 74,000 viewers, a mere two tenths of one percent of the US viewing public.

In an attempt to explain the concept to an American audience, New York based journalist Arwa Mahdawi described it as “the Super Bowl of Camp”. From beauty pageants to Broadway, from John Waters to RuPaul’s Drag Race to…well, the Super Bowl itself, Americans consume camp ravenously. Yet Eurovision hasn’t become Must See TV.

Some countries embrace Eurovision and all it stands for. Other countries — including some which participate — show lukewarm enthusiasm.

Is it a simple matter of taste, or are there deeper cultural issues afoot? And what lessons does Eurovision hold for creators of global content?

Eurovisiophiles: Some very rough math.

As one might expect, the European Broadcasting Union watches viewership numbers closely. It doesn’t release figures as a whole, but secondary sources[1] tabulate them from reports by member broadcasters.

Using these figures, if we divide the number of viewers for any viewing event by the total population[2]of the viewing country, we get an approximate measure of enthusiasm for the contest. I’ve based the calculations on 68 ratings events between 2016 and 2018, for which data are available.

What cultural characteristics predict a big audience for Eurovision? As an exercise, I correlated the index with the six dimensions of cultural difference developed by Geert Hofstede — known as Hofstede 6D. While the figures are extremely rough, they give us some tantalizing clues.

Masculinity. Is Eurovision competitive enough?

Ten years ago, I’d just arrived in Germany to take up a new job. A colleague felt he needed to explain Eurovision to me, a non-European.

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Martin Karaffa

Marty is an independent strategy consultant specialising in global brands and communications. He is also an Associate Partner of The Culture Factor.