The 51st Eurovision Song Contest held in Athens is remembered fondly for introducing the world to Lordi and giving Finland their first ever song contest victory.

And now fans will be able to relive the magic of the 2006 contest with new never-before-seen high-definition footage.

On Saturday 31 July, the Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel will broadcast the Eurovision 2006 HD cut.

The ‘HD cut’ was considered forgotten until discovered in a storeroom at the Greek broadcaster ERT‘s headquarters.

Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens in HD

Until recently, the high definition footage was considered lost. But in 2019, staff at the Athens Broadcasting House unearthed a box labelled ‘ESC 2006 Final’. The tapes found within were shipped off to the Netherlands to be digitised. And now the EBU are finally sharing the never-before-seen HD footage from the Athens Olympic Indoor Hall.

The HD footage was never intended to be broadcast. So fans can expect to see a number of differences between this new cut and the original show. Not all of the cameras in Athens were capable of filming in high definition, therefore there are some jarring differences as the picture quality jumps from HD to SD. However, this is a testament to the power of HD technology and how far Eurovision has come since its black and white days of the 1950s. Get ready to see icons including Lordi, Dima Bilan and Anna Vissi in crystal-clear HD!

Elsewhere, the on-screen graphic overlays and postcards are missing. But now fans will get to witness some never-before-seen footage of the transitions between acts. Ever wondered what happens on stage between performances? How do the stage hands clear away all the props? Now you can find out!

The history of high-definition technology at Eurovision

Hardcore Eurovision fans will remember the 2007 contest in Helsinki as the first edition of the show to be broadcast in full HD.

But as it happens, the 2006 show hosted by Sakis Rouvas and Maria Menouno was also filmed in HD as part of an experiment that helped pioneer the technology for use in live television events.

Hans Hoffman, the EBU’s Senior Manager in Technology and Innovation, explains to Eurovision.tv:

“We’re always looking for ways to innovate and the Athens shows offered the opportunity to push boundaries. We started experimenting with HD around 2002, investigating in detail the potential that HD television could have for broadcasters in order to enhance their audience’s experience.

In Athens, we worked very closely with the research and development labs of the IRT (Institute for Broadcasting Technology) in Munich, as well as Rai R&D (Italy) and the BBC R&D (United Kingdom) laboratories, and with our combined resources, teams and equipment, we were able to gain and share editorial and technical experience and insight.

This was translated into specifications and recommendations for the EBU Members to carry out for their own HD strategic planning and to make the right decisions in their investment strategies. So Athens 2006 was a huge, important experience with a lasting impact on the television industry.’

The test material that we generated at the time was used many times in large scale investigations throughout the whole scientific research community. For example, the footage was used to help design the compression format H.264 and for production codecs, which is still in use because the results were so fantastic. It’s great that the entire broadcast community could benefit from the Eurovision Song Contest in this way.

The Athens project allowed us space to ask questions about everything from what’s the best distribution and production formats, to investigating the new types of compression we’d need and the production workflows including optics of the camera. And that’s not forgetting there was a big battle at the time between progressive and interlaced scans to display video. Today it has been proven that the EBU findings by promoting progressive scan was right.”

Nowadays, the research has shifted towards UHD (ultra high definition) and HDR (high dynamic range). And as the Eurovision Song Contest continues to grow and develop, audiences can expect to see new innovations gracing their screens at the courtesy of Europe’s favourite TV show.

Watch Eurovision 2006 Full Show Online in HD

The Eurovision 2006 HD cut will be available on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel on Saturday 31 July at 21:00 CEST (BST + 1).

What do you think? Are you excited about the new discovery? Will you be tuning in to watch the Eurovision 2006 HD cut? Let us know in the comments down below. 

Read more Eurovision 2022 news here

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Purple Mask
Purple Mask
1 month ago

Note when the Serbia/Montenegro announcer says: “I’m sorry we didn’t give you a song this year. But, I promise, next year we will give you the best song.” (Serbia went on to win the next year in 2007.) A time traveller or just amazing foresight?! 😀

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
1 month ago

I’m watching this now. Ohhh this brings back so many memories. It was such a cheerful and theatrical contest. The HD cut is so vivid; even more than my own memories! 🙂

Davo
Davo
1 month ago

Now the EBU needs to re-release all the shows from 2006 on Blu-Ray so we can see the finals and the semifinals in HD. For some reason only 2011 and 2017 had blu-ray releases.

esc1234
esc1234
1 month ago

Watch out for the anna vissi performance. A whole stadium sings with her. A true icon and Greece’s no 1 star even today

Nicolas
Nicolas
1 month ago

What ? I remember already having seeing it on HD back then. Must even have still somewhere on an old hard disk the video file.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nicolas
Nicolas
Nicolas
1 month ago
Reply to  Nicolas

lol downvote me as you want but I have 2006 even better quality than EBU shows us on Youtube with HD 50fps.

canada_piano
canada_piano
1 month ago

i actually dont know a lot at all about the 2006 contest. same could probably said for anything before 2009 tbh

canada_piano
canada_piano
1 month ago

yessss now i can finally watch lordi’s performance being able to actually see!

Whisker
Whisker
1 month ago

”Unearthed”? Lol! Whatever works!

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago

Carola. Anna Vissi. Christine Guldbrandsen.

Colin
Colin
1 month ago

It will definitely be a cool nostalgia trip. My favorites are worthy winners from Finland, and awesome ballads of Ireland and Greece. Bosnia and Herzegovina also had a lovely song, and I really liked Belgium, Andorra, Norway, and Poland. I enjoyed Croatia’s Moja štikla as well. Such a guilty pleasure. Speaking of a guilty pleasure, Iceland’s Congratulations is absolutely abysmal in the best way possible. I also might be one of the rare people who unironically likes the UK’s song (even if the staging was very cringe indeed).

Ern
Ern
1 month ago
Reply to  Colin

Oh yes, Sylvia Night !! …. lol

That was a classic Eurovision moment. The audience starts booing her immediately, and the whole performance was as tawdry as you can possibly get, insulting everyone and everything.

Then, you have her antics after the contest where she’s outside the stadium threatening to jump off some footbridge …. and the Greek press not realizing it’s all an act, and taking the whole thing very seriously. They legitimately thought the woman was having a breakdown.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ern
Aeria
Aeria
1 month ago

Ah yes, 2006, the year where Norway was brutally robbed from a top 5 spot

Una
Una
1 month ago

I remember a few songs from that year and I remember reading stuff about it. Not gonna spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet but: a first win, some first best results, at least one “disappointing” NQ – singer touted to win; the “drama” provoked by another singer/character.
I think 2006 gonna be a nice edition to watch. Exciting!!

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Una

It was fifteen years ago, I think a cursory scan of Wikipedia is going to fill in those blanks.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Finland, Bosnia/Lithuania/North Macedonia, Belgium, and Iceland respectively, for those curious

Ern
Ern
1 month ago

2006 was a pretty awesome contest.

Aside from Lordi, you get “Tornero” from Romania, “Everything” by Anna Vissi, Ireland’s really great entry that made top 10 and Armenia’s debut.

And, of course, Lithuania’s “We are the Winners of Eurovision” …. which was awesome.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ern