Eurovision 2017 cost Ireland’s RTE €331,000…but Louis Walsh payout remains a mystery


They’re the long-suffering broadcaster that failed to make the final in Kyiv, despite pouring money into postcard filming, an oversized hot air balloon and X Factor judge Louis Walsh.

And on Wednesday Ireland’s RTE revealed just how much it spent on its non-qualification at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. 

“RTE incurred a cost of approximately €331,482 in delivering Eurovision Song Contest television programming to Irish audiences,” the broadcaster revealed, following a Freedom of Information Request from the Irish Sun.

“However, please note that as the RTE annual accounts for 2017 are not yet been finalised, that these costs do not include charges for RTE labour and support costs, as these will only be finalised once the annual accounts have been completed.”

“This compares with last year’s figure of €337,000,” the spokesperson added.

“Along with the participation fee the overall figure includes artist and designer fees, the cost of staging the performance including full dress rehearsals, graphics, props, pyrotechnics, costumes, choreography, postcard filming and song recording.”

The country’s participation fee — paid to the EBU to assist the host broadcaster in putting on the show — was €84,534. That’s down from the €88,472 they paid in 2016.

The costs covered the expenses of sending a 16-person delegation to Ukraine, including singer and ex-Hometown star Brendan Murray and his mentor — the music mogul Louis Walsh.

However, Walsh’s consulting fee remains a mystery as RTE denied the newspaper’s request for that nugget of info.

But they did reveal that Walsh stayed in Kyiv for four nights and stayed in one of the EBU-approved hotels.

“Similar to other delegation members his flights were economy class,” the broadcaster said.

We can vouch for the last point. On May 14 we bumped into Louis waiting in the very long queue out of Kyiv. He didn’t receive any special treatment at the airport.

RTE was keen to point out that Eurovision remains a ratings success.

“This year an average of 273,000 viewers tuned in over the course of the three nights representing a 21 per cent share. The reach across the three nights (including RTÉ One+1) was 1.6 million viewers.”

Ireland’s Eurovision expenses

As RTE points out, this year’s cost is six-thousand euros less than last year’s bill for Nicky Byrne, which amounted to €337,000.

But both of those figures are significantly higher than the €254,000 RTÉ spent for Jedward’s participation in 2012. Back then, the spending was criticised. But it was also noted that costs were higher than average for 2012, due to the longer flights needed to travel to Baku and the limited choices in hotels.

Ireland: Broadcaster RTÉ reveals €337,000 spent on Nicky Byrne’s participation

RTÉ explained that their higher budget for 2016 was due to Nicky Byrne having been internally selected. The budget that would have normally gone to hosting the (already low-budget) national final Eurosong was instead allocated to the staging of the Irish entry, “Sunlight”.

The broadcaster also explained that “Nicky Byrne waived his performance fee in order to channel all available budgets into the stage production.”

Do you think Ireland’s budget was well spent? Do you care if Louis Walsh received a hefty fee? Let us know in the comments box below.