They boast a record number of Eurovision wins, yet consistently struggle to make the grand final. But in May, Ryan O’Shaughnessy broke a streak of non-qualifications when he took Ireland to the Saturday night show for the first time since 2013.
And after a Freedom of Information request from The Irish Sun, broadcaster RTÉ revealed just how much it spent on its only Eurovision finalist from the last five attempts. The total bill came to €304,088.
It can be broken down as follows:
RTÉ Eurovision 2018 costs
- Product costs – design, set pieces, lighting props and pyro, etc. – €27,190
- Accommodation – €42,355
- Flights (economy class) — €8,483
- Airport parking and taxis — €663
- “Representation” bill — €1,594
- Food and subsistence — €13,632
- EBU Participation Fee — €83,861
- Undisclosed, including artist fees — €126,309
The costs covered the expenses of sending a 18-person delegation to Portugal, including singer Ryan O’Shaughnessy and his two dancers Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer. Ryan’s fellow “Together” songwriters Mark Caplice and Laura Elizabeth Hughes were also included in the number.
The remaining delegation members were backing vocalists Claire-Ann Varley, Janet Grogan and Remy Naidoo, the Head of Delegation Michael Kealy, tour manager, stylist, choreographer, sound engineer, vocal coach, commentator Marty Whelan, broadcast co-ordinator, photographer and Head of Press Rayna Connery.
However, RTÉ told the newspaper that the costs do not account for “charges for RTE labour and support costs, as these will only be finalise once the annual accounts have been completed”.
While the TV station was happy to disclose breakdowns relating to money spent on accommodation and flights, they declined to publish all the costs. A large chunk of €126,309 remains unaccounted for. This includes fees paid to performers.
In response to The Sun’s FoI request, the network said it could not release information on “additional costs associated with the artists (performers), who are independent contractors” as this was “commercially sensitive”.
“If further costs were released, it could result in material loss to the artists (performers) and could discourage them, and other artists (performers), from seeking to work with RTE.”
Value for money
While a bill in excess of €300,00 may seem eye-watering to you or I, it’s actually a reduction on previous years. In 2017, Brendan Murray and his doomed balloon set RTÉ back €331,000. At €337,000, ex-Westlife member Nicky Byrne’s ill-fated attempt at solo stardom was even more expensive in 2016.
However, RTÉ is happy with the return on its six-figure investment. “The Eurovision Song Contest provided seven and a half hours of live entertainment content – broken down the cost per hour was €44,197 – which by TV production standards represents very good value for money.”
This year, an average of 416,000 people tuned in over the course of the three shows. This amounted to a 34% audience share and is up significantly on the 2017 average of 273,000 viewers.
Do you think Ireland’s budget was well spent? Let us know in the comments box below.