The Eurovision Song Contest, one of the most watched live events in Europe, is coming to American television for the first time ever. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced on Monday that this year's grand final in Stockholm will be broadcast live in the US on Logo, a Viacom-owned cable network known for LGBT-themed programming. The final will be held on May 14th at 3PM ET, and will also be streamed in the US at LogoTV.com and on the LogoTV app. Logo is available in nearly 50 million homes in the US, the EBU said.
Eurovision has long been among the most popular televised events in Europe, with last year's semifinals and final drawing nearly 200 million viewers, according to organizers. Each participating country selects one song to represent them in the competition, with winners decided by viewer votes. Over the years, the contest has become known for its elaborate set designs, campy pop ballads, and quirky personalities. Notable winners of the 61-year-old competition include ABBA and Céline Dion, though few others have achieved the same level of global success. (The Verge explored this phenomenon in a report from last year's Eurovision in Vienna.)
"Clearly there is an interest and an appetite"
"We are thrilled that the world’s biggest entertainment show is being broadcast live in one of the biggest TV markets for the very first time," Eurovision Song Contest executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand said in a statement announcing the Logo broadcasting deal.
Eurovision began in 1956 with just seven European countries, and has gradually expanded over the years to include more countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and even Australia. (Forty-two countries are participating in this year's edition.) Yet despite its immense popularity across the world, the competition has never gained the same kind of audience in the US. John Kennedy O'Connor, a longtime Eurovision commentator and author of The Eurovision Song Contest: The Official History, thinks the Logo deal could change that.
"I've always thought Eurovision would work very well for PBS in the USA and wondered why there had not been any interest before in showing it," O'Connor said in an email, describing the decision to expand to Logo as a "great move" for the show. "The highest online audience has always been in the USA so clearly there is an interest and appetite for the show."