I sat down to run the numbers expecting them to validate what I had found in previous years – that the draw had no impact on the final placement of an act. But when I graphed the numbers I found – draw position has a gigantic impact.
In all of the below graphs, a horizontal trend line would indicate the draw having no impact. A line from upper left to lower right shows that later is advantageous. And boy does it show advantage.
Here’s the vote vs. draw for the final vote.
Drop Ireland and you’ve got a clear grouping that unambiguously shows the impact of the draw.
Diving into it, I ranked the draw vs jury vote. EBU is not clear what the number for the split votes means, but clearly lower is better. So here we have the experts, the people who should not be impacted by the draw.
The impact is less, but it still clearly exists. Even for the experts, at the completion of the show, the most recently watched acts had an advantage. One of about 3 points where the final scores were in the range of 6 – 20 points. 3 points in a range of 14 is about 20% (for first vs. last place in the draw). If Aliona was say 20th instead of 3rd, she likely would have placed 2nd in the jury vote.
Now let’s look at the tele-vote.
For the tele-vote the draw has a gigantic impact. Malta & Russia were the only acts able to make enough of an impression early in the show to break the curse of an early draw. The vote score range is 20 (4 – 24) and the draw advantage is 10. That’s 50% of the vote range.
Draw is everything (see Malta, Russia, Georgia, & Ireland). But it matters a lot. Azerbaijan may or may not have bought votes. But they definitely gained significant votes by their draw number of 20. If Russia and Azerbaijan had switched running order, they well could have switched their final place in the contest too.
What Does This Mean?
This year for the first time EBU set the draw order for each act. And doing so they appear to have increased the impact of the draw order. Regardless of the intention of the EBU, regardless of the how they made their decision in the order, the end result is that the decision by the EBU in selecting the order heavily influenced the final results.
In fairness to the acts, to the participating countries, to the viewers who watch – the EBU needs to return to a random drawing for the order. The EBU’s calculated ordering has made draw order a gigantic influence on the final result. Previously the order had minimal to no impact. First do no harm – go back to what worked better.
Second, if the order does matter, it is much better for that advantage to be random than to be selected by the EBU. If people see the order confering great advantage, they will accept a random ordering. They will not accept a small number of people selecting who will gain the advantage.
It was a reasonable thing to try. It’s now time to evaluate and reset back to what worked better.