I saw Richard and Bubbles in the cafeteria yesterday lunchtime and they invited me and Jenny to a Eurovision party on Saturday night. Jack and his girlfriend Phoebe will be there too, as well as Gus and Heather, some people from the Psychology department and some of the other women who work in the cafeteria.
The idea is that we will each draw two countries at random and there will be a prize for the first and last placed country on the night. Bubbles plans to serve food or drink associated with each country as the night goes on. Easy enough for France, Italy and Germany I think, but it may involve a bit of research and then specialist shopping to track down food from some of the other countries involved.
To get into the spirit of things I went online to check out the official Eurovision website. Apparently there was the first of two semi-finals on Tuesday night. Sixteen countries took part but only ten went through to Saturday night’s final. It seems that Cyprus was one of the countries that got eliminated. The second semi-final is tonight so we don’t yet know which ten countries will go through from that group – but it includes Greece, so I hope they go through or we will get no Greek food on Saturday night!
Six countries are seeded for the final: Sweden (the hosts as the event takes place in Malmo), the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The UK is represented by Bonnie Tyler with the song “Believe in Me”.
I thought I would have a look to see what the betting was for the different acts. It seems that Denmark is the favourite with Norway, Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan all also heavily backed. The UK is a little way down the list in fifteenth place so I guess they won’t be winning again this year!
There have been some interesting papers written about the voting patterns in the Eurovision Song Contest; various regional clusters seem to vote for each other and the UK doesn’t seem to have many friends that regularly support her.
I was also interested to see a paper by Fleisher and Felsenstein in the 2002 issue of the Journal of Cultural Economics which was a cost-benefit study of the Eurovision Song Contest held in Israel in 1999. The paper adopted a methodology which attempted to identify and measure three kinds of potential surpluses, the producer surplus (private sector incremental profits), consumer surplus (consumers’ incremental willingness to pay for the event) and government surplus (promotional advertising net benefits). Although there were difficulties in measuring some intangible benefits, the authors concluded that there was an overall net benefit to the country from hosting the event despite the $3 million that it cost the Israeli Broadcasting Authority to put it on (some costs were also covered from private sponsorship).
The Eurovision Song Contest has been going since 1956 and it is reckoned that over 125 million viewers now tune in to watch the programme. The UK has tended to have a bit of a jokey attitude to the event – partly because of the voting set up, partly because some of the songs are very strange, but also because of the attitude that Terry Wogan took in his commentary on the night. But of course it was the Eurovision Song Contest that brought Abba to the notice of the world. Let’s hope that there is one song as good as any of theirs to enjoy. Anyway, I am sure we will have a great party with Bubbles and Richard. I wonder if I can draw Denmark or Russia?