“Cheapest Eurovision ever” — that was how RTP’s head of programs Daniel Deusdado described the network’s vision of Eurovision 2018 during the most recent episode of A Voz do Cidadao, a news show discussing matters of public interest.

By championing frugality and making it clear that the network doesn’t have to break the bank, he echoed earlier sentiments from RTP’s CEO Gonçalo Reis.

Speaking to O Jornal Economico on October 15, the broadcasting chief stressed cost efficiency.

“I can say today that we are going to make the Eurovision festival the cheapest ever and I am confident that our creative teams will develop one of the most interesting Eurovisions ever,” he said.

We should point out that he likely means the cheapest “modern” Eurovision, as it would be impossible to stage an event cheaper than the black-and-white wonder of Lugano 1956.

Naturally some Eurovision fans have taken this and similar comments from RTP to mean that the show will consist of singers wearing paper bags and singing in front of a fold-out cinema screen.

Writing on our YouTube comments section, in response to the above video, YouTube user The Cage Master writes, “Well, then I guess the stage will be empty and boring.” Hamza Mian seems to agree, equating euros (and Azerbaijani manat) to quality: “The best ESC was 2012 and it was the most expensive. So yeah: usually expensive means good.” Both of these comments seem to focus on the stage and arena. Baku’s Crystal Palace Hall was famously constructed for $134 million.

But much of the expense of putting on Eurovision has little to do with the actual stage. Writing on our web site, Hada points out that Portugal “can make ‘the cheapest Eurovision ever’ or something close to it if they already have the preexisting infrastructure.”

And they do. Altice Arena is concert-ready, having welcomed acts like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and One Direction.

Lisbon — where officials have also organised large-scale events like Web Summit and the UEFA Euro 2004 Final — also has the transport and hospitality infrastructure already in place.

As Hada says: “I have the feeling that in many cases the super big budgets had something to do with bad administration and improvisation, not just with having bigger and better things.”

Most of our readers seem to agree that cheaper doesn’t mean “poor quality” but rather “good value”.

“Cheapest doesn’t mean lack of quality,” L’oiseau writes. “Norway did it with a modest budget as well. Frankly I find that a very good attitude for a country like Portugal.”

“It’s easy to take what is said very literally,” James says. “I interpret this as allowing the host broadcaster to deliver a well-produced show without going over the prescribed budget, securing deals that make the most financial/cost-effective sense to put the contest together. Of course, a great deal of transparency is needed to show RTP’s capability to deliver.”

“Quality over quantity is the rule of thumb in this case. A modern contest need not to be made with more money than what is needed. Didn’t Sweden go under budget back in 2016? If SVT managed to produce a quality show without going over then so can RTP.”

On YouTube Andy Taylor says: “Cheaper is better — you don’t need to blow the bank to host a good show. Just have good hosts, a great vibe, hope for some great songs, and we’ll have a great week!”

And what do you think, Antoine Kieffer?

“People have to understand that the stage is not the most costly aspect, and a cheap Eurovision does not mean no fireworks or extras.”

“Well you can do cheaper and still do an amazing show,” Twisted French writes on YouTube. “There are also some ways to reduce costs. So I’m sure they will do great!! They can’t miss that anyway, after 50 years of participation!”

Do you agree with some of the comments above? Are you confidant that Portugal can put on a fabulous show while avoiding unnecessary expenditure? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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John Moynahan
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John Moynahan

A cheaper Eurovision is to be applauded but a ticket selling farce is reprehensible!! First batch of tickets sale I gained an impossible queuing number of 6500+ on the exclusive selling site blue ticket.pt This morning I logged in even earlier to be given a queuing number of 35000+ WTF! In a 20000 arena? Are there really that many people intending to attend? Why do I smell a rat here After the last batch were released for sale, tickets that evening were on sale on viagogo at 4 times the face value I will not be abused like that!! Was… Read more »

Music Is the Key
Guest
Music Is the Key

A nice move 🙂 A cheaper ESC, might just as well be a better ESC.

I think the focus should be on the songs, rather than big stage settings etc. It’s a song contest after all. Some “showfactor” can be nice to, but not to the extent that it steals too much of the attention. I think ESC these days is too much focused on visuals. That might change next year 🙂

At the end of the day, the quality of ESC mostly depends on the actual songs taking part. The show aspects are more like “extras” to me.

valdo
Guest
valdo

I have a better idea…let’s make it a radio show, No visuals and focus on the song. And it’s cheap cheap cheap…Done.

Hada
Guest
Hada

For goodness’ sake, they’re suing they’ll try to spend slightly fewer millions of euros, they’re not making the acts perform on wooden pallets.

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

Well they’ve got much better and comforting infrastructure so they don’t need to compromise production. They need to isolate local Alasania if they’ve got one and have a mindset ready for creativity.

P.S. Hopefully those 3D tubes will be kept away from Contest for another 5 years – that’s really too much focus on visuals.

brunowskii
Guest
brunowskii

If Deusdado really believes it’s possible to do a nice eurovision with low budget, I think he should be worried announcing that the are going to do the best ESC ever… not the cheapest… Portugal, doesn’t disappoint me!

Justin K.
Guest
Justin K.

As many have pointed out, ‘cheap’ doesn’t mean ‘poor quality’. Just look at Malmo: a great show, memorable winner, and all done on a relatively small budget. Although the staging and production of Eurovision is really what separates it from every other show and concert (you can’t expect a single artist to do the same thing 26 different countries are willing to do with their three minutes within a couple hours), it ultimately comes down to the music. Luckily with 2016 and 2017 featuring a language other than English, we’re heading back to more cultural diversity, so no matter what… Read more »

Lewis Smith
Guest
Lewis Smith

I think Portugal are loving the fact that they have finally won it. And I think it will be a massive extravaganza no matter the budget. I feel it will be used to show the best of Portugal and make a statement. But no matter what I am excited and I will love the show.

night and day
Guest
night and day

When I read comments like Portugal is not like Brazil, or Portugal is not expensive like UK, I remember what was said about Francesco Gabbani, that he is favorite like Sergey, but he can’t lose, because Sergey has lost for political reasons, while Gabbani is 100% winner.

Azaad
Guest
Azaad

To be fair, Portugal doesn’t have to deal with a presidential impeachment or a deadly virus. Brazil was in no state to host the olympics so soon after the World Cup.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

Cheaper doesn’t mean poor quality. I’m confident that Portugal will do its best and it will be a great contest! First, Portugal is cheaper than many other European countries. I was impressed by the costs. For example, as mentioned in the video you made guys, how much a bottle of water costs or a ticket to the subway. The cost of sth may be different from country to country. Besides, it’s how you spend the money. You have to know how much money you can spend and do it in the right way without going out of budget. If you… Read more »

Davi
Guest
Davi

Lets face it the best ESC in the last few years has to be Stockholm in 2016! And they did it on a budget.. Not even half of the cost of the 2012 ESC.

But I have to say that I liked 2012 as well.. It was apparent that the Azeris put a lot of effort into hosting.

Davi
Guest
Davi

The worst ESC in the new millenium has to be 2002 and 2007. Small stages, bad production etc..

Especially 2007 was a disaster…

L'oiseau
Guest
L'oiseau

It is true that the whole organisation of the Olympics in Rio and its aftermath had many problems. But, if we concentrate on the opening show, I think it was spectacular. It was fun, touching, not boring at all, and with a great party mood at the end. Actually I think RTP could be inspired by this party mood.
Off-point: Brazilians are more our brothers, than cousins.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Not a good comparison… the amount of preparation and setup needed to host the Olympics is far larger than that needed to host Eurovision

Indonesian ESC Fan
Guest
Indonesian ESC Fan

Stockholm 2016 had the very best visuals (stage looks + graphics) compared to the other contests including Kyiv.. IMO

Portugal could too, RTP’s graphics are better than the other TV stations in Europe.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Well, the worst edition so far in terms of show production has been the most expensive one in Azerbaijan, so I can’t blame Portugal for knowing they can do well with a lower budget.

Jo
Guest
Jo

I agree, but Azerbaijan also lacked experience hosting major events. They will do much better in a second time.

Bella
Guest
Bella

Excellent, very smart of them. No one wants to spend billions on Eurovision, except dictatorial countries like Azerbaijan and Russia who use that to promote themselves (like we don’t already know it sucks there).

Richardinho
Guest
Richardinho

Sounds like a good idea. No reason why Eurovision has to break the bank for hosts. Hopefully there will be less emphasis on ‘staging’ and more on actual songs.

Ranting Ruby
Guest
Ranting Ruby

BRILLIANT! AT LAST! It would be SO GOOD to have a Eurovision that concentrated on the actual SONGS instead of the fluff and freebies and pyrotechnics and capitalist cronyism that usually turns it into a budget Soccer World Cup! Why not go the whole hog and have Acoustic Eurovision? Can’t wait to watch it!

Hada
Guest
Hada

This but unironically. Please someone make an Eurovision: Unplugged event happen!

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Go watch the 70s editions if you want it that way. People in 2017 would rather be entertained.

Jerick
Guest
Jerick

Actually, backing tracks were already making their way to the contest around those times. If I recall, Italy performed with a full backing track for the first time in the contest in 1979.

EUROFAN MEXICO
Guest
EUROFAN MEXICO

i love your idea acoustuc songs with emotions , real intrumentation and great voices

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

If they’re going for a cheap/cost effective Eurovision, that’s not going to involve setting up individually miked instruments for every song. Even bringing back the orchestra would cost more – the wages of the musicians, extra technical staff, extra rehearsal time. Backing tapes are cheap! 😀

Music Is the Key
Guest
Music Is the Key

It *would* be good I think. More focus on the music, less on the visual. I think ESC is too much focused on the show aspect these days.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

It makes perfect sense to have a cost efficient Eurovision, especially in a country struggling financially. It would be obscene to spend millions & millions on a luxury like this in the age of EU austerity etc. – and the contest should be hostable for every country that participates. We can’t all be Azerbaijan (a despicable regime with unlimited funds) – 2012 left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

Paul D.
Guest
Paul D.

It’s obvious they won’t waste much money because they already have all the infrastructures, just because of that you save a looooot of money

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

In my opinion its about production rather than cold hard cash.
from 2010 until 2017 my fav contests were from last to first

1st: Stockholm 2016
2nd: Oslo 2010
3rd: Dusseldorf 2011
4th: Malmo 2013
5th: Kiev 2017
6th: Copenhagen 2014
7th: Vienna 2015
8th: Baku 2012

From what I know the top 3 recent contests with the lowest budgets were oslo, stockholm and malmo.

now in regards to the stage itself I liked the stages for Vienna,Malmo, Dusseldorf and Stockholm

Denis
Guest
Denis

Cheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality. I mean it can if they mishandle it but cheap means working with the resources you have. Obviously it’ doesn’t mean having everyone standing still and singing ballads, it just means you will go to extra length to make it look spectacular . There will still be both show, spectacle and technical performances, just at a lesser expense. EBU has for the last years pretty much urged every host country to go cheap, to show that you can afford to host even in troubled times. I mean as mentioned ESC 2016 didn’t cost… Read more »

HarpyDarper
Guest
HarpyDarper

Totally agree with this sentiment! Another thing about Baku 2012 is that the final had a very dull atmosphere in the hall and that came across on screen (the semis were a little better).

Pablo Nava
Editor

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to say it’ll be cheap and it’s for the best is cheap or at least on-budget like Austria, but there’s a pressure on making it visually appeasing.

Take Sweden. Both 2013 and 2016 were talked on as “supercheap Eurovisions”, but 2013 looked a big bore, while 2016 looked nothing short of spectacular. Use your resources smartly, and make sure it LOOKS expensive and regal. Diamonds and Cubic Zirconium are very different prices, but they both can look amazing.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I agree with this sentiment. SVT did way better in 2016.

Lola
Guest
Lola

Why no one talking about sponsors? I remember few days after Portugal wining there were already talks about big brands wanting to be part of ESC 2018 🙂

Rúben
Guest
Rúben

Actually RTP talked about one of the sponsors on that video, they said that Turismo de Portugal will support all the costs of the postcards, which will be filmed in different sites of Portugal, and i thing that the owner of the arena (Altice) will also be one of the main sponsors.

Jo
Guest
Jo

What I can say about Rio’s Olympics is that the international media loved bashing Brazil, just like they did with in Sochi 2014.

Jo
Guest
Jo

More like sensationalism. But I’m sure the next three editions are going to be flawless.

Jo
Guest
Jo

That’s good. Most cities don’t want to host big events anymore, due to the high costs and little return. If Portugal proves that Lisbon can host Eurovision with a small budget, other countries may put more efforts to win Eurovision and host it.
Sure Copenhagen 2014 was amazing to see, but the controversial aftermath over the expensive event wasn’t.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Also a good point. Look at Spain for instance… not a good look when the TV station doesn’t appear to want to win.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

Good point!