Finnish television doesn't do a lot of entertainment and out of everything on offer, the UMK final is state of the art. It looks good and ambitious and contains some really nice interval acts and pre-filmed material. A very nice package. And yet almost nobody is watching.
While Melodifestivalen managed to score an impressive 3 364 000 viewers with a good but not outstanding first semi, only 452 000 tuned in to see Softengine win in Finland.
|Copyright: Yle, photo by Tomi Mikola|
UMK is a high profile project for Yle. Eurovision is much loved since forever among the Finnish audiences. 452 000 viewers is a disastrous outcome. Disastrous. How do you explain something like this?
For some reason, Yle insists on showing UMK on their second channel. Recent figures show that TV2 is a channel in free fall with generally very poor ratings. The Eurovision selection should be taken onto the first channel at once.
The current format of UMK is not attractive for the viewers. For three weeks, singers and songs are shown without any action taking place what-so-ever. Then there are a further three weeks of heats and semis where very few songs are voted off and where the same songs keep playing and playing without any major drama or excitement.
A selection process needs excitement and all these warm-up shows seem to turn the audience away instead of enthusing them. Yle needs to rethink.
Either you can do what Estonia does. Strip away everything that is surplus. Put the songs in the centre of attention and have two straight-forward semis where the number of songs is efficiently reduced in time for the final.
Or you do what Denmark did. When the semi finals are not good or interesting enough - you scrap them. Denmark went back to a one-night extravaganza and used up their entire budget on making one sensational show for the audience to love.
Given the state of things in Finland, I would suggest the latter. Get 12 songs - try to get a star or two to enter as well - and show them in a sassy, sexy, magnificent live show broadcast on TV1. The UMK final shows it can be done, so do it now.
Correction: The figure I had seen was incorrect - the real rating is 423 000 viewers.