A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ESC 2015: making television isn't easy

After the first semi final it is easy to conclude one thing. Making television isn't easy. The ESC always aims at being state of the art tv and therefore it's audience is hard to please, but there were a number of easy mistakes to spot last night.

I wouldn't blame ORF for all of them, they are inexperienced with hosting the ESC. Erika Vaal is no longer around to sort things out for them, they are excused. But the EBU are not inexperienced, however. This is what they do. And they should have paid more attention to a few things regarding the show.

The camera work has upset quite a few people watching the show. I thought it was pretty fine, but some of the cameras kept wobbling up and down. That's not nice and gives a cheap impression.

Another problem is the abundance of flags in the audience. They are fun and create an atmosphere but they keep getting into every shot, obstructing the way, blocking out what is supposed to be seen. Isn't there a way of placing the cameras so you can get clear flag-free shots?

The structure of the show was an even bigger problem. Two hours is a long time to fill and most of the filler material really wasn't good enough. The chat with Australia and France went on forever and added precious little of value. That clip where pets discover Vienna was a bit cute but far too long. That idea would have worked for a maximum of 90 seconds or so.  Conchita was great in the green room but she did have a lot of time to fill. We saw more of her than of our actual hosts.

Speaking of our hosts, I am sure they are all three lovely people with great personalities. But there was no room for them to develop any roles. Like a three-headed monster they just stood together, reading one line each from a script that one single host could have handled brilliantly alone. Like three girls at school, reading their project work straight off the paper.

But the biggest flop of the first semi was - undoubtedly - the complete lack of excitement and circumstance when the qualifiers were revealed. All that non-content had been allowed to take up so much time that there was no time left for what we had all tuned in to see.

I hope there have been meetings in the Eurovision headquarters today, addressing these issues. It would be so easy to tweak things still. Make them better. Make more appealing television. I really don't mean to whine or trash Austrian tv here but there are people who work all year round with this very show. Why didn't anyone perform any quality control before the first semi went on air?


  1. Didn't SVT had similar problems (not as big though) in the 2013 final? Too much everything superfluous, that made the show way longer than supposed to.

    1. According to SVT, the show wasn't too long but the spokespersons strayed from their scripts and made the whole thing overrun. But the voting always takes longer than anticipated, strange that they didn't foresee that.

    2. Last year the show was also way too long in the jury final, but then they cut the first half of the interval act for Saturday. Strangely ORF didn't do that this year.

  2. What I also missed was a real interval act. It was mostly boring babble during the voting and before the results. I would like some entertainment.

    1. I fully agree. Something with substance. The big problem with the pets feature was that it didn't have any point. Animals with cameras, fine. But why?

  3. almost as bad as the quick results for me, the fake audience cheer, but EBU apparently wants it that way..

  4. There were issues earlier in the broadcast that culminated in the more obvious ones at the end. They were forced to rush the qualifiers in order to end the broadcast on time. The interviews with Australia and France were filler material in a fixed-length commercial break, and thus could not be shortened for any reason.

    Unfortunately the semis aren't an important enough program to permit the EBU to run into the affiliates' valuable 11PM weeknight timeslot. It was a judgment call on ORF's part to rush the announcements and shoot for the on-time ending, no doubt influenced by the fact that they were about to run long on a semifinal with only 15 1/2 songs, which would have been terribly embarrassing.

    Agreed with most of your other points: The hostesses were too interchangeable, and too English-challenged to pull off the jokes they'd been given. And the Go Pro Pets thing was just a bad idea all the way around, even moreso for the fact that it was apparently supposed to substitute for a proper interval act.

    Trust me - The folks at ORF knew things were going badly even before we did, and they will take steps to see that it doesn't happen again. The ESC isn't just hard, it's pretty much the single hardest TV event in the entire world. It packs SO many stakeholders from SO many cultures with SO many languages into a single auditorium and tries to get them to work together for a two hour live TV show, with 40+ different audio feeds, a platoon of press and press-wannabes covering it, war-and-peace political implications, and a gazillion people online critiquing their every step. And oh by the way, IT'S A MUSIC CONTEST, so you have to deal with a platoon of touchy artistic types as well.

    The folks who do the Oscars (with the backing of Disney/ABC, the largest TV network in the world) would be found in their respective corners whimpering in a fetal position if they attempted a Eurovision broadcast. Never mind three of them in five days.

    This SF did not go especially well, but I'm always impressed whenever they get through any of these broadcasts without a major calamity (like, say, the audio system failure in the first Dusseldorf semifinal - now THAT was a mess!). That some of the segments are ill-chosen speaks more to the limited resources and the cultural blind spots that every Eurovision country has to one degree or another.

  5. Personally I liked the no-frills announcing, despite it being rushed. It just seemed to me to be more natural and not created suspense that sometimes is just plain annoying.