Another year, another rule change! At this rate, it feels like not a contest goes past without a fresh rule revision. The newest amendment concerns the manner in which the jury score is calculated. But it’s slightly complicated, so sit back and warm up your brains.
Juries at modern Eurovision
First, some background.
Eurovision juries have always been a divisive subject within the fan community. But regardless of whether you love to hate them or hate to love them, they make up half of the total vote. In other words: they’re important!
When the juries were re-introduced during the 2008 semi-final, they only had the power to send a tenth “wildcard” song to the semi-final, while the other nine qualifiers were chosen by the public.
One year later, when the contest headed to Moscow, half of the grand final result was determined by juries.
Since then, the way in which the jury score is calculated has undergone a number of changes. Most notably, before 2013, every juror only ranked their individual top ten favourite acts. However, from Malmö onwards, juries ranked all participating songs — i.e. from their favourite to least favourite. Of course, in 2016 the voting system underwent yet another revamp. But that impacted more on the power of the televote rather than how juries operated.
The big disadvantage with the post-2013 ranking is that one juror could potentially drag a country’s result down or lift it up. For instance, Juror X might really, really dislike an entry and rank it 26th out of 26 in the final. However, all of his colleagues might adore it and rank it highly. But thanks to Juror X, that entry could potentially get no points at all from the panel. Today’s new rule change seeks to address this problem.
The power of an extreme individual opinion reduced
Now for the hard part.
Previously, the jury point were calculated by combining each juror’s rankings. No extra weight was given to songs that scored highly. Under the new system, each ranking will have a predetermined value.
The EBU’s so-called “linear weight model” is out and the “exponential weight model” is in.
The graph below shows the value of each rank, i.e. how much each juror’s 1st place, 2nd place, etc is worth when calculating the overall jury score from a country.
The difficult math explained
In practice, this means that when a juror ranks a song first, the song will get twelve points from that juror.
The juror’s second place will receive a little less than twelve points. This process continues until the 26th ranked song, which receives one point from that juror.
To calculate the points of a jury, the ten entries with the highest sum of points will be awarded a country’s 1 to 8, 10 and 12 points. But what’s the revolutionary change exactly?
Instead of a linear model, the songs will be evaluated in an exponential model (*cries in maths*).
This means that the predetermined value of the first ranked, the second ranked and the third ranked song will generally be higher than the values of the fourth ranked song and below. Next to that the first ten songs will also have a generally higher value than the eleventh song and below. This is the reason why the graph above looks like a nice ski slope and not a straight line.
The advantages of the new system
One of the biggest advantage of this new system is that the system will make it less likely that one juror influences the overall ranking of the jury too much. This is because the difference between the value of 12 and 1 is smaller than the difference between a first rank and a 26th rank.
Next to that, the EBU wants to achieve a more coherent top 10 feel by spreading the values from 12, 10, 8 towards 1 instead of ranking the songs from first until twenty-sixth place.
The EBU has also confirmed that the jury members for this year’s contest will be announced on Monday April 30 at noon CEST. The 215 music professionals from 43 countries will make up 50% of the points, while the televoters will decide the other half.
If you’re eager to learn more about how exactly the new system will work in practice, the ESC Insight team has created a number of simulations based on the available jury scores from previous contests.
Are you happy with the rule change? Let us know in the comments below.