With the first semi-final of Melodifestivalen 2019 due to take place in two weeks time, broadcaster SVT has announced a major change to the voting system of the song contest. Votes will now be weighted to ensure all age groups have their votes equally counted.
App voters will be divided into seven age groups, and in addition, phone votes will be counted as the eighth group.
While the paid phone vote is less popular than the free app vote, SVT has chosen to retain it to allow people without the app to still vote — and to support the Radiohjälpen charity, the beneficiary of the televoting fee. The SMS vote, however, has been scrapped due to lack of demand.
Each group has an equal number of points to award, ensuring that no one demographic can dominate the voting. In the past, the Melodifestivalen app vote has been criticised for having votes from younger viewers skew the overall voting.
The public vote will continue to decide the qualifiers of the semi-finals and the andra chansen round. In the grand final, the public vote will still count for 50% of the vote, with the international jury continuing to count for the other 50%.
During the show, only the overall public points total will be revealed, however a full breakdown of voting statistics — including votes per age group — will be released one week after the grand final.
A change of heart
There will also be changes to the controversial heart graphic, which appears during the performance of each song.
In recent years, the heart has pulsed, with the intensity representing the live popularity of the song in the app vote. This has been criticised for revealing too much about the popularity of each song, spoiling the surprise of the show results.
Now the heart will still be animated to show its voting popularity — however, the animation will be much more subtle and won’t give as many clues as to the overall result. It will be a gentle pulse, and no more intense sparking of the heart.
But with a new feature, the heart will change colour to reflect which age groups are most engaged with the voting for that song. The voting groups and respective colours are:
- Green: 3-9 years
- Turquoise: 10-15 years
- Blue: 16-29 years
- Purple: 30-44 years
- Pink: 45-59 years
- Red: 60-74 years
- Orange: 75+
- Uncoloured: Phone
Will the new system change the result?
It is possible that the new system will result in a different type of song winning. However, Melodifestivalen project manager Anette Helenius notes that “It has become clear that all the songs that have received the most votes have been loved by all viewers regardless of age. But we naturally want everyone to feel that their voices are counted, and therefore we have listened to the viewers and make this change.”
After analysing the voting statistics, SVT discovered that — despite fan perception — the differences between age group voting favourites is very small.
Running the Mello 2018 voting figures through the 2019 system produced the same semi-final qualifiers and only one change with the andra chansen qualifiers. Again, SVT found that the most popular songs were popular with all age groups.
This isn’t the first change to Melodifestivalen’s voting system. Over the years, the voting has been updated and refined to reflect changes in technology and viewer habits. For example, in 1999 Melodifestivalen introduced televoting, while in 2015 the Melodifestivalen app was introduced.
You’ll be able to see the new voting system in action starting with the first semi-final of Melodifestivalen 2019. The show begins on Saturday, 2 February, kicking off at the Scandinavium in Gothenburg.
What do you think of the new voting system? Is it fairer to group voters by age? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!