In Audience and Novelty Acts, Eurovision Is Still the King of Music Television Shows

LIVERPOOL, U.K. — On Saturday, 26 music acts from Europe, Israel and Australia — many dressed in a dazzling display of outlandish outfits — will take the stage at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena to compete in the Grand Final of what can justifiably call itself the biggest music competition in the world: the Eurovision Song Contest. 

When it comes to music television shows, Eurovision, taking place this year in Liverpool on behalf of war-torn Ukraine, dwarfs them all. More than 161 million people across 34 countries watched last year’s show, held in Turin, Italy and won by Ukrainian rap-folk band Kalush Orchestra, an increase of 7 million viewers (4.5%) from 2021, according to organizers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). 

In audience terms, that puts Eurovision ahead of the Super Bowl, the biggest annual U.S. television event, which drew 113 million TV and online viewers for February’s contest. Comparing to awards shows, 12.5 million viewers tuned into this year’s Grammy Awards, a rise of 31% year-on-year, while 2022’s MTV Video Music Awards averaged 3.9 million viewers, up 3% on the prior edition. This year’s Brit Awards, the U.K.’s biggest music awards show, also drew a television audience of just under 4 million. 


While many viewers in the United States and United Kingdom have long regarded Eurovision as little more than a kitsch joke with novelty costumes, the song contest’s enormous audience gives it an unrivaled reach as a marketing platform, making the competition – famous for introducing ABBA to the world — an increasingly attractive launching pad for record labels to develop artists.

Netflix 2020 musical comedy film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, further elevated the event’s international profile, introducing its idiosyncrasies to a wider global audience. 

But it was the success of Italian rock band Måneskin, whose international career exploded after winning 2021’s contest with “Zitti e buoni” (Shut up and behave) that “changed the game completely” in how executives and labels approach the competition, says Andrea Rosi, CEO of Sony Music Italy, which counts Måneskin on its roster. 

Earlier this week, the Italian act played a sold-out show at London’s 20,000-capacity The O2 arena, while the band’s most recent album, Rush!, topped the charts in multiple countries and debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 in January – Måneskin’s highest ever U.S. chart placing. 


In the past, Eurovision “was not so important for the Italian market,” and there were some years when it was not televised in Italy at all, says Rosi. “Now the picture is completely different. National television is giving much more space to the [competition] and it brings massive exposure to the artists [taking part] across the world.”

Italy’s entry in Eurovision’s 67th edition, which wraps up Saturday, is Marco Mengoni, already an established star in his home country, who came seventh in the competition 10 years ago and is signed to Sony Music Italy. Rosi is confident that Mengoni’s song, “Due Vite” (Two Lives), a soaring orchestral ballad sung in Italian, will help open up new markets for the artist. 

Ahead of the competition, which kicked off Tuesday with the first of two semi-finals, Sony Music Italy worked with its international label partners to devise an extensive marketing campaign to build Mengoni’s profile in Europe. Last month, he played club dates in France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. A larger follow-up European tour, promoted by Live Nation, is scheduled for the fall. This summer, Mengoni will play a series of sold-out stadium shows in Italy, wrapping July 15 at Rome’s Circus Maximus.

Since being selected in February to represent his home nation at Eurovision, Mengoni’s “Due Vite” has topped the charts in Italy and, says Rosi, is now “starting to have traction” in other European countries, including Germany and Switzerland. “It’s been a long time [since] an Italian pop artist has been successful outside Italy,” he says. “We have big hopes for Marco.” 


As one of the so-called ‘big five’ countries taking part in Eurovision, Italy’s entry automatically qualifies for a place in Saturday’s grand final because of their broadcaster’s financial contributions to the event. The rest of the big five is made up of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, while Ukraine also receives a free pass as last year’s winner. In total, 37 countries are taking part in Liverpool across two semi-finals and the main show. 

Among this year’s favorites to win is Sweden’s Loreen, who won the competition in 2012. Her 2023 Eurovision entry “Tattoo” has earned around 20 million combined views on YouTube. (The singer’s official Eurovision video has 3.8 million views). 

Another hotly tipped act is Finnish rapper Käärijä, whose catchy entry “Cha Cha Cha” has generated around 15 million combined views on YouTube, by Billboard’s calculations. Since being first released in January, the song has been streamed more than 18 million times and has become “the biggest phenomenon ever in Eurovision history in Finland,” says a spokesperson for Warner Music Finland. 

The publicity has given a massive boost to Käärijä’s profile. At the start of the year, the artist had around 1,500 followers on TikTok. Following the first semi-final on Tuesday, that number had grown to just under 100,000. Monthly listens on Spotify have jumped from just under 50,000 in January to 1.2 million. 

Käärijä is one of four Warner Music entries in this year’s contest – the others being Austria’s Teya & Salena’s “Who The Hell Is Edgar?”, Reiley’s “Breaking My Heart representing Denmark and Polish singer and model Blanka, whose song “Solo” marks her debut for the label. Since its release in November, “Solo’s official video has had 23 million views, while Spotify streams have crossed 10 million — largely fueled by the publicity from Eurovision.  

Hubert Augustyniak, head of non-urban A&R at Warner Music Poland, is confident that competing in the competition can help break Blanka outside her home market, where, he says, Eurovision has already made her a “really well-known” star. 

“It is not easy to do international marketing when you are a Polish label,” says Augustyniak, “so this is a huge opportunity for us.”

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