Netflix this week made the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest available to American audiences.
Those in the United States are now able to stream both semi finals and the Grand Final of this year’s contest held in Tel Aviv in May.
The deal with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) also includes the right to stream the contest in 2020.
So, this is a good thing right? We think? Well since we’re actually not living in the United States, we thought we’d ask some actual Americans what they think of the set up.
We asked Ben and Mike from the Eurowhat? Podcast if they saw streaming this year’s contest as a good thing?
“I think this is good and adds an additional audience that might check it out now that it’s available in a format that doesn’t require knowing the right broadcaster/VPN setting,” Ben told us.
Conor from ESC United and Amerivision Podcast also agreed that “for the casual viewer of Eurovision in America, having the contest available for re-watch is amazing.” He went on to add, “I often refer people to watch the contest here in the States, and it’ll make it so much easier for them than describing the public access streams in Icelandic, Finnish and German”.
The link between this agreement and the upcoming Will Ferrell film and the American Song Contest was not lost on the Eurowhat? Boys with Mike giving us his take,
“I think it's great, though the timing is a little off. This dovetails with the Eurovision movie Will Farrell is making for Netflix and it sounds like the EBU is on board with it. Apparently filming was happening at rehearsals in Tel Aviv and there was never a "cease and desist" issued when the project was initially reported. I could see this as a long-term strategy for both Netflix and the EBU: Netflix gets into live television with big one-off events while the EBU scouts out a potential home for the American Song Contest.”
The question many have had, including us, is ‘will they stream it live in 2020?’, and some think it’s not off the table.
“I think Netflix wants to look at the data around how many people actually watch the contest before they commit to broadcasting it live. I think they have the digital infrastructure to do so, but it needs to be worth it. That said, if they want to start doing live events, Eurovision is a good pool for them to dip their toe into”, Ben from Eurowhat? told us.
Connor disagrees though thinking a livestream is just not an option, “Netflix is not a live-streaming platform and it never will be. So that's just the catch 22 that comes with the deal. I'm excited to watch the contest at work with greater ease though.”
But even if it’s on a delay, most aren’t concerned, as long as it’s not too long after the contest.
Mike told us, “If it's by the next day, I think that will be fine. If we're talking July 2020, that's just silly.” while Connor adding “ for fans who just want to watch the final shows, I don't think they're going to care much about it being posted later.”
Asking Eurovision fan Justin Kanda from Hawaii he agrees, “The hardcore fans, like myself and some of the other Americans I know, will solution seek to watch it live even if it’s during our work or school day to avoid spoilers.”
And just how do Americans watch the contest at the moment? Well it’s all pretty legit and not very ‘piratey’, Mike from Eurowhat? explains,
“From 2010 to 2015, Eurovision made the contest available as a stream on their website or through YouTube without geoblocking. YouTube geoblocking kicked in 2016, but Sweden's SVT app works in the US without VPN or sketchy dark web links, so that's usually my go to. This year we audited the participating broadcasters and about half of them offered streams in some above-board fashion. I plan on being at next year's shows, but look forward to watching the Netflix version when I get back.”
Justin agrees, “SVT has been super reliable in being able to watch the contest live, even if I can’t understand Swedish!”
Connor adds that there’s something special about watching through European channels,
“I've watched mostly through SVT (Sweden) and ARD (Germany), but also caught one show through RUV (Iceland), SBS (Australia), YLE (Finland) and maybe NRK (Norway). I think I'll keep watching through those channels myself to be honest because at this rate it's tradition. I didn't learn ESC broadcast phrases in those languages just to throw them away!”
So overall Americans do think it’s a great way to broaden the appeal of the contest to a larger audience, but for the die-hard fans they will find a way to watch the broadcast live without Netflix.
It is remarkably similar how Australians took to the contest in the past (and even today), the die-hards will watch live (and did so before SBS’s live broadcast) and the broader audience will watch on delay.
We look forward to seeing how our America takes to the contest and if it does indeed combine with efforts on the fictional movie and the planned American Song Contest.