Eurovision viewing figures plummet after series of issues with song contest

It was a substantial drop from 2023’s record-breaking ratings

Jacob Stolworthy
Sunday 12 May 2024 15:29 BST
Eurovision's Olly Alexander's reaction as UK receives null points from public vote

Eurovision 2024’s viewing ratings plummeted in the wake of a planned boycott over Israel’s involvement.

The annual contest, which was won by Switzerland, took place on Saturday (11 May) after months of controversy, which saw long-time fans of the event call upon organisers to block Israel’s participation amid its ongoing war on Gaza.

One year after Russia was banned due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel was permitted to perform at the finals after qualifying in the semi-finals – a result that followed thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting in Malmö, Sweden, where this year’s contest was being held.

Those who planned to boycott the event clearly made good of their promise, with overnight ratings revealing a substantial drop from 2023’s figures, which was the most-watched Eurovision since viewing records began.

According to agency Digital.i, this year’s contest, which aired on BBC One, was watched by an average of 7.64 million, with a peak of 8.46 million.

In comparison, last year’s event, which took place in the UK for the first time in 25 decades, amassed a peak of 11 million, with an average of 9.98 million tuning in.

Ahead of the ceremony, UK entrant Olly Alexander found himself the source of an open letter as the controversy intensified, with many urging him to withdraw from performing in protest against the country’s ongoing war on Gaza.

The pop singer, who said he felt “sad and distressed” by the row, responded to the open letter signed by Queers for Palestine, a collective of more than 450 queer artists, individuals and organisations, revealing that his performance would go ahead.

When asked by The Times if the controversy had tarred his Eurovision experience, Alexander tearfully replied: “Obviously there are a lot of things I wish were different. And this is so much bigger than me and Eurovision, it really is.”

Switzerland won Eurovision with a whopping 591 points, closely followed by Croatia with 547 points.

Switzerland’s delegate Nemo won Eurovision 2024
Switzerland’s delegate Nemo won Eurovision 2024 (Getty Images)

Rounding out the top five were Ukraine (453 points), France (445 points) and Israel, who were awarded a full 12 points from the UK’s public vote. The country’s act, Eden Golan, received 375 points overall but, as noted by Graham Norton, received boos from the crowd.

Alexander finished in 18th place, out of 25, and received just 46 points for his song “Dizzy”. He received zero points in the public televote.

Ahead of the ceremony, Netherlands delegate Joost Klein was disqualified from the contest due to a behind-the-scenes “incident”.

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