Following on the BBC’s decision to ditch their National Final for 2020, Spain’s RTVE has announced they will not be using the TV show Operación Triunfo as the selection method for their artist or song for Rotterdam. Spain has used O.T. as a de facto national final for the last 2 editions of Eurovision and RTVE will return to an internally selected artist for the first time since 2015.
Operación Triunfo is a reality TV show that combines a talent search show with a Big Brother type of format and is wildly popular in Spain. In addition to supplying the 2018 and 2019 Spanish entrants, the show was also used back in the early 2000’s as the country’s selection method.
Disappointing results in the last 2 contests has led to criticism that the show wasn’t delivering artists with the required skill and experience to succeed at Eurovision. Also that an artist’s popularity with viewers has been too influential in the decision to vote for them, not the quality of the artist or song.
RTVE’s Director of Content, Fernando Lopez Puig confirmed in a radio interview that Spanish recording artist Rosalía had been approached to go to Eurovision, but like some other countries, established Spanish artists are hesitant to take the risk of competing in the competition. No other possible candidates have been officially mentioned and speculation will run rife over the coming months.
Over the last decade Spain has had a variety of internally selected artists, as well as those that earned their participation through various National Final formats. Both methods have had varying degrees of success. The nation only achieved two Top Ten finishes in the 2010s – the internally selected Pastora Soler in 2012 and the 2014 National Final winner Ruth Lorenzo both managing 10th place finishes.
Spain becomes the second ‘Big 5’ nation to confirm a change in selection method this week after the UK broadcaster the BBC confirmed a partnership with record label BMG for the 2020 contest. Will these moves spell a change of fortune for both nations? We'll have to wait and see. One thing for sure, it will definitely fuel the discussion on the merits of internally selected artists vs those selected via a National Final.