Eurovision Song Contest: 65 years on, poll shows high awareness and viewership within and far beyond Europe

ABBA’s Waterloo is the most popular song in the history of the contest.

The 65th Eurovision Song Contest will be replaced by a special television broadcast on Saturday, May 16th titled Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The special will feature songs from 41 countries that had been chosen to take part in the 2020 contest in a non-competitive format. Ahead of the event, Ipsos conducted a global survey to gauge interest in and compare familiarity with the Eurovision Song Contest among 13 countries that have participated in the event, along with another 15 countries across the world.

Key findings

  • Across the 12 European countries surveyed and Australia, all of which are currently participating or have participated in the contest, 94% of adults have heard of it, 63% say they have watched it at least once, and 10% say they have voted for a contestant at least once. Outside of Europe and Australia, an average of 40% report having heard of the contest and 17% say they have watched it at least once.
  • About  two in five adults who know of the Eurovision Song Contest (38% across Europe and Australia, and 45% across countries in other parts of the world) said they were likely to watch any of this year’s semi-finals or final before it was announced that this year’s contest was cancelled and replaced by a special event.
  • Half (52%) of all people from the 11 countries surveyed with an entry in the 65th contest said they would be delighted or pleased if their country won.
  • ABBA’s Waterloo is by and large the most popular song that ever came out of the Eurovision Song Content. Thirty-six percent of all adults surveyed across 11 countries currently participating in the contest selected it as their favorite among 16 of the contest’s all-time best-selling songs.

The survey was conducted among 20,031 adults under the age of 75 across 28 countries on the Global Advisor online platform between February 20 and March 3, 2020.

Detailed findings

Awareness

On average, across all 13 countries surveyed with a history of participating in the contest, 94% of adults have heard of it. Awareness of the contest ranges from 95% to 99% in all but one of the European countries surveyed with Italy (74%) being the exception.  In Australia, 89% awareness of the contest is nearly as high as it is in Europe. Australia is the only non-European country surveyed that participates in the contest.

Outside of Europe and Australia, an average of 40% of respondents report of having heard of the contest. Awareness of the contest is especially high in China (64%) and Saudi Arabia (56%). It ranges between 33% and 49% in all other countries surveyed in Asia and the Americas, with Japan (7%) and the United States (21%) being the only exceptions.

Viewership

Among countries that have participated in the contest, 63% say they have watched the contest at least once. Among these countries, “ever viewership” is highest in Sweden (86%), Turkey (82%), Spain (80%), the Netherlands and Poland (73%) and Russia (72%). In contrast, fewer than half in Italy (34%), Australia (36%), Hungary (43%), and France (45%) say they have watched the contest at least once.

Outside of Europe and Australia, an average of 17% say they have watched it at least once. Reported experience of having ever watched the contest is as high in China (36%) and Saudi Arabia (35%) as it is in Italy and Australia. It ranges from 10% to 25% in all other countries, except for Japan (4%), the United States (6%), and Canada (7%).

Voter participation

One in ten people in countries that have participated in the contest say they have voted for a song at least one. Countries where people are most likely to have voted for a song are Sweden (23%), Turkey (17%), Poland (15%), the Netherlands and Germany (11%) and Great Britain and Spain (10%). In contrast, only 3% in France and 4% in Australia say they have ever voted.

2020 viewing intentions

Before the contest was cancelled and replaced by a special event, an average of 38% across Europe and Australia said they were likely to watch any of this year’s semi-finals or final. Viewing intention was highest in Turkey (56%) even though the country stopped participating several years ago, followed by Poland (52%) and Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands (49%). It was lowest in France (17%), Australia (24%), and Hungary (25%). Hungary is the other European country surveyed that was not participating this year.

Outside of Europe and Australia, 45% of those who have heard of the contest reported likely to watch any of this year’s contest, including 72% in China, 67% in India, 65% in Saudi Arabia, 54% in Peru, and 52% in Malaysia.

Globally, the likelihood of watching this year’s contest varies only slightly by gender (45% among females vs. 39% among males) and by age (45% among those under 35, 43% among those aged 35-49, and 37% among those aged 50-74).

Excitement about own country’s song winning

Half (52%) of all people from the 11 countries surveyed that are participating in this year’s contest say there would be delighted or pleased if their country won.

Poland (71%), Italy (65%) and Russia (62%) show the highest level of enthusiasm.

Overall, women (59%) and those under 35 (55%) are more likely than men (44%) and those aged 35-49 (49%) or 50-74 (50%) to say they would be delighted or pleased.

Most popular Eurovision songs

ABBA’s Waterloo, the winner of the 1974 contest, was selected as the favorite among 16 of the contest’s all-time best-selling songs by more than a third (36%) of the respondents across the 11 countries surveyed that are currently participating. Waterloo ranks No.1 in nine of the 11 countries.

One exception is Italy, where the top spot goes to Domenico Modugno’s Nel blu dipinto di blu (also known as Volare), a song that finished third of the 1958 contest and ranks No.3 across all 11 countries. Another exception is Russia where the favorite song in the contest’s history is the country’s 2019 entry, Sergey Lazarev’s SCREAM.

The second most popular song across the 11 countries is Loreen’s Euphoria, which won the contest in 2012. It represented Sweden, as did Waterloo.

The other songs in the top five are Johnny Logan’s Hold Me Now from Ireland (the 1987 winner) at No.4, and Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah from Finland (the 2006 winner) at No. 5.

These are findings from a Global Advisor survey conducted by Ipsos among 20,031 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey and 16-74 in 23 other markets, February 20 - March 3, 2020. It was carried out via the Ipsos Online Panel System in 28 markets.

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