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Do Young People Still Care About Eurovision?

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The Youth Lab at THINKHOUSE explores how relevant Eurovision is for youth today

Do Young People Still Care About Eurovision?

Love it or hate it, the Eurovision Song Contest has been a hot conversation every May for almost 70 years. For Eurovision diehards it’s an annual pilgrimage, traveling to new cities to be part of the experience. For others it’s a social occasion, online or IRL, gathering with friends to judge the entries together. We, The Youth Lab at THINKHOUSE, The Youth Marketing Company, posed some questions* to our online community to explore how relevant Eurovision is for youth today? 

* Disclaimer: this isn’t a wide reaching survey with approx. 100 approx participating via our Instagram


TUNING IN FOR THE CHATS & CONNECTION

Up until recently the Contest has been losing viewers with the lowest ratings in 2019. After being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, 2021 saw viewership increase by 4%, and in some countries even more (Lithuania went up by 230%!). The one-time notion that the Eurovision isn’t something for a younger audience is no longer the case - viewership among 15-24 year olds was up by 7% from 2019 to 2021 with 52.8% of them tuning in on TV. And while it might not be for everyone, for those who like it, it’s an opportunity to gather with likeminded people and have fun. 

"The day after I joined Twitter I got added to a group chat and suddenly there were so many people I didn't even realise I could talk to and it was a wow moment of like: 'Oh, my goodness, I'm not alone.'" Aaron, 22, London 

Like many big televised occasions, Eurovision is evolving into a multi-device, multi-platform experience. When we asked youth about their intentions to engage with the Eurovision this year, 42% are dual screening - watching on TV while scrolling through social media, taking in all the Eurovision memes. Some people watch just so they can talk about it with friends: 

“It’s relevant to me as the guy I’m talking to on Hinge said he was obsessed with it.” Megan, 24

WAY MORE THAN JUST MUSIC 

“I think Eurovision is so relevant because of its sheer diversity! We can have ballads and pop in one moment, and then yellow wolves or babushkas dancing with cookies in the next. It’s weird, it’s unpredictable, and it’s just lighthearted fun for everyone to watch." Lucas, 19

Eurovision has become so much more than a song-writing competition - it’s a spectacle. We’ve witnessed elaborate pyrotechnics and fireworks, a monster-mask-wearing-death metal band, a turkey representing Ireland, and endless elaborate costumes. The stage often hosts a wide range of styles and aesthetics - like Albania’s sex positive performance. Eurovision gains relevance thanks to “the sparkling acceptance of diversity the music industry lacks” (via Thinkhouse IG polls). This acceptance of diversity has led to Eurovision being celebrated in LGBTQ+ culture, welcoming people in and creating a safe and fun space for those that want to be there.

“I think the main audience in youth is LGBTQ+ because it celebrates the differences and ‘campness’.”  Tammy 

TIKTOK TRENDING

“The memes, the songs that’ll flood tiktok for weeks, discovering new pop divas” Callum, 22

The show is a trending topic every year, with nearly 5 million Eurovision-related tweets sent on the night of the Grand Final in 2021 and 14 million social media engagements and 50.6 million unique viewers from 234 countries tuning in to its YouTube channel (up 28% on 2019). And of course, this year’s contest continues to cause outrage online, with 2 million tweets shared during last night's semi-final about the entrants not moving forward (like Ireland) to tomorrow’s final. 

The competition entrants themselves are also gaining more and more relevance on channels like TikTok, locking in interest from more and more younger fans through their songs, aesthetics or messages. Sam Ryder, representing the UK , is one of the most followed singers on TikTok, with 12 million fans. Spain’s entry from professional singer and choreographer Chanel is hitting all the right notes with her TikTok #slomochanelchallenge having over 750K views. 

“I didn't even realise until last month it was a Eurovision entry - it's been EVERYWHERE on TikTok.” Niamh, 25

Fans get creative too - the official video for the Serbian entry now has been parodied by a lot of popular TikTok creators. Latvia’s song was already a hit with 8.4 million views on TikTok, sparked a lot of disappointment when disqualified this week, with the track described online as “one of the very few songs in recent years to touch on the most important issue of today aka climate change… Yes, it has a fun vibe but in a meta way, it’s one of the most topical and relevant songs and represents Gen Y and Gen Z’s biggest fears well. Something to consider before mocking it as a joke entry.” The disappointment of a song not getting through hits fans hard


CULTURE BECOMES POLITICAL 

Eighty four percent of respondents to our Thinkhouse polls agreed that ‘Yes, the Eurovision is political’: “It was born out of conflict. It’s inevitable that the Eurovision and politics will be associated” one responder, Mark, commented.

As the Ukrainian invasion continues, their host is broadcasting from a bunker and their entry Kalush Orchestra is tipped as the favourite to win (Russia is banned from participating). Going back to 1956, the competition was initially created through a desire to unite European countries after World War II. While it is about uniting people, there is technically a ‘no politics rule’. For young people this isn’t realistic - in a world that is increasingly polarised, culture is political. Back in 2019, Iceland broadcasters were fined by the European Broadcasting Union after their representative held a Palestinaian flag on camera. People have been drawing comparisons online to this and Russia’s expulsion from the competition - we expect there may be more debate with conversations manifesting online around this, although for some, Eurovision will be ‘consumed’ as simply a break from all the drama. 

“I think the almost ridiculousness of it all distracts everyone from the problems that we are having in the world - it’s an escapism of all the doom and gloom.” Lainey 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

A phenomenon like the Eurovision is a ‘mainstream’ event that is evolving from having a more traditional media (like television, print) presence reaching an older demographic, to evolving with  new ‘digital medias as part of the wider change of ‘mainstream’ culture. By having an understanding of how young people are discovering culture by engaging through digital media (f.ex songs on TikTok, Youtube series), it’s possible to keep up with both audiences and stay relevant. 

“Eurovision is relevant for young people, for all people! After upping their game on social media across the board, they’re sharing the spectacle in new formats. While celebrating great song-writing talent, their evolution keeps things relevant to youth by being a cultural platform for creativity, inclusivity and drama, similar to platforms like the ever popular Ru Paul’s Drag Race. You can’t beat the excitement, the tension, and the pure joy that is the scoring of the Eurovision. Youth who love it, love it, because of all the fun, the escapism, the campness and the spectacle, It’s so uncool, it’s cool.” Kieran O’ Donovan, Head of Client Service & Eurovision Diehard, THINKHOUSE

Douze points to the Eurovision - period. 

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THINKHOUSE, Fri, 13 May 2022 12:14:13 GMT