A common justification for whether or not an act qualifies past the semi-finals is “well, they performed early.” It seems rational: you better remember an act you saw later, and will more likely vote for it. But, prepare for a shock: performance order barely matters.
We at Team Wiwi decided to calculate the linear regression lines of performance orders versus points earned in the semi-finals and finals (in two different equations, obviously). Linear regression lines give us an expected value when we plug in a value into x. All of the data was compiled and given in two equations: semi-final points from 2010 to 2014, and final points from 2010 to 2014 (you try putting in points and running orders for 4 contests in a little calculator!). The equations are as follows:
Semi-Finals: Y= 51.763 + 1.04X (X being the performance order, Y the number of points) Coefficient of Determination: 0.016
Grand Final: Y= 65.787 + 1.866X (X being the performance order, Y the number of points) Coefficient of Determination: 0.04
Hypothetically you could put in the performance order and get a predicted score, but it will not be accurate. The Coefficient of Determination tells how much this line represents the data set (in this case, performance orders and points earned). The closer to 1, the greater the association is, and the closer to 0, the weaker the association. Therefore, there is a very weak association between performance order and points won, and therefore place.
This formula is not perfect. There are countries that place well in every part of the show, due to either a really popular song, suggestive staging, or everyone’s favorite conversation piece: bloc voting. It would be next to impossible to account for all of these variables, so we have to stick to a general formula. Romania’s qualification this year, for instance, would probably not be jeopardized if they performed first in their semi-final. Yet, an entry that is on the cusp of qualifying (cough cough, Slovenia) would have a possibility of benefiting from a later performance.
We now live in an era of Eurovision where quite a few entries can earn 100 points or more, leaving everyone else to fight among themselves. Statistically speaking, though, we cannot pull the “early performance” gimmick. Do you honestly think that Engelbert would’ve placed in the top 10 had he performed last? I think not.
Obviously not everyone agrees with me. David T, a wiwiblogger in the US, has come up with his own analysis where the suggests running order does matter.
What are your thoughts? Is there a relationship between performance order and placing? Tell us in the comments below!