Earlier this week the European Broadcasting Union revealed the viewing figures for Eurovision 2022: A total of 161 million television viewers watched this year’s song contest. This does not mean that 161 million people watched the grand final, but rather that 161 million folks tuned in to at least some of the three live shows.
The figure represents a drop of 22 million reported TV viewers from Eurovision 2021, when the EBU said that 183 million viewers watched the 2021 edition in Rotterdam.
This year’s figure come from 34 markets, whereas the last year’s figures came from 36 markets. Russia and Ukraine are not included in this year’s measurement. As the EBU explains:
“Russia, who were excluded from the competition in February, and Ukraine are not included in 2022’s figures which accounts for the overall drop from 183m reach in 2021. Ukraine was not measured this year.”
“In 2021 together these two markets accounted for 29 million people reached, excluding these markets from the 2021 data shows that 2022 reach is up 7 million on 2021 in a comparable number of countries.”
The rise in seven million, however, won’t make up for the long-term hit in viewership taken by Russia’s exclusion. Russia has 146 million people, making it the largest country to compete at Eurovision in recent years. Germany, the second-biggest, has 84 million people.
With Russia barred and television viewing becoming less popular with the contest’s core audience, it seems highly unlikely Eurovision will return to the viewership heights of 2016 — when the EBU proudly revealed that the song contest had reached 204 million people (across 40 reported markets that year). It’s been on a downward trajectory since then. The ratings dropped to 182 million when Russia withdrew from the Kyiv-hosted edition of 2017. Despite their return a year later, the ratings haven’t picked up.
In total, the Eurovision Song Contest reported 43 million fewer viewers between the 2016 high and 2022. That’s a dip of around 21%.
Eurovision 2022: Ratings success in the UK, Spain and Italy
Hey, ho. The overall drop in TV viewership shouldn’t obscure gains and achievements elsewhere.
According to the available viewing figures, the United Kingdom was the leading market in terms of overall viewers for Eurovision 2022. A total of 8.9 million Brits tuned in to see Sam Ryder finish second. That’s up 20% on last year.
Meanwhile, in Spain, viewership soared to 6.8 million as viewers joined the Chanel hype train. That marks Spain’s highest viewership since 2008. Understandably, host country Italy achieved its best Eurovision ratings in about thirty years.
In general, ratings and market shares remained stable across western Europe with the exception of non-qualifier Denmark and underperforming France. In the Netherlands, an average audience of above 3 million watched live at home, while in Norway, the contest enjoyed an 89% market share. Get those viewers a banana!
Eurovision loses viewers in parts of central and eastern Europe
In terms of viewership, things look less rosy in parts of central and eastern Europe.
Russia’s (rightful) exclusion means the contest has lost its biggest TV market. But even before Russia’s goodbye, the country was already demonstrating a reduced interest in the contest. While Eurovision could count on a market share of around 30 to 40% in the mid-2010s, by 2020, this had already dropped to 23%. And let’s not forget that Belarus rightly got the boot ahead of Eurovision 2021, reducing numbers further still.
The glowing ratings report from the EBU didn’t mention some other notable declines. The Czech Republic is the prime example. Only 137,000 people watched the contest this year, representing a decline of 25% compared to last year. It’s a sad figure for a country of 10 million people. Austria, meanwhile, recorded its worst rating in almost a decade.
Nevertheless, Poland and Romania reported a large increase in TV viewership after their own contestants made it through to the Grand Final for the first time in several years. It’s welcome news in Romania, where the broadcaster has been posting record-low interest among audiences in recent years.
Do you think that Eurovision can ever crack 200 million TV viewers again? What can be done in markets like Czech Republic and Austria to get people excited? Let us know in the comments box below.