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Eurovision 2022, the Internet effect version


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Eurovision 2022, the Internet effect version

There’s only one song contest that is more than six decades old and not only presents many new songs (ABBA, Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias and Domenico Modugno shined there), but also has a global stage that involves 40 countries — performers represent those countries and the public votes. The 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, in Turin, Italy, had two semi-finals (May 10 and 12) and a final (May 14), all of them with highlights, including Ukraine’s victory. The Internet was impacted in more than one way, from whole countries to the fan and official broadcasters sites, but also video platforms.

On our Eurovision dedicated page, it was possible to see the level of Internet traffic in the 40 participant countries, and we tweeted some highlights during the final.

First, some technicalities. The baseline for the values we use in the following charts is the average of the preceding week, except for the more granular minute by minute view that uses the traffic average of May 9 and 10 as baseline. To estimate the traffic to the several types of websites from the 40 participating countries, we use DNS name resolution data. In this blog post, we’re using CEST, Central European Summer Time.

It's not often that an entertainment event has an impact on a country’s Internet. So, was there an impact on Eurovision nights?

Let's start with aggregate Internet traffic to the 40 participant countries (Australia included). In the first May 10 semi-final, there seems to be a slight decrease in traffic during the contest — it makes sense if we think that most people were probably watching the broadcast on national TV (and not on YouTube, that was also transmitting live the event). Traffic was lower than in the previous period between 21:00 and 23:00 (the event was between 21:00 to 23:14), but it was back to normal at 23:00.

For the second semi-final that trend is less clear. But the May 14 final (that lasted from 21:00 CEST to 01:10) told a different story. Traffic was 6% lower than on the previous Saturday after 21:00, mostly around 22:00, and after 23:15 it was actually higher (between 4% and 6%) than before and continued that way until 02:00.

What happened at that 23:15 time in Eurovision? The last of the 25 songs at the contest was Estonia’s “Hope”, by Stefan, and it ended at 23:14 (also in this blog post we will also see how 23:16 was the highest spike in terms of DNS traffic to fan websites during the final). This is the Internet traffic in the participating countries on May 14 chart:

There were several countries that showed similar impact in terms of traffic change during at least the final. France, UK, Germany, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland are examples.

Eurovision & the UK

The UK was one of the countries where there seems to be more impact during the time of the grand final — last year, according to the ratings, eight million were watching the BBC transmission with the commentator Graham Norton. Traffic started to drop to lower levels than usual at 20:30 (a few minutes before the final) and was 20% lower at 22:00, starting to go closer to normal levels after 23:00, when the set of 25 finalists' songs came to an end.

Here’s the UK’s Internet traffic trend during the Eurovision May 14 final:

Fan sites: what a difference a winner makes

The most obvious thing to check in terms of impact are the fan websites. Eurovision has many, some general (there’s the OGAE, General Organisation of Eurovision Fans), others more local. And DNS traffic to them was clearly impacted.

The first semi-final, on May 10, had 33x more traffic than in the average of the previous week, with a clear 22:00 CEST spike. But the second semi-final, May 12, topped that, with 42x more traffic at the same time. The final, with the 25 finalists, clearly surpassed that and at 22:00 traffic was already 70x. But because the final was much longer (in the semi-finals it was around 23:00 that the finalists were announced), the peak was reached at 23:00, with 86x more traffic than usual.

“We have a winner. The winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 is… Ukraine!”.
Alessandro Cattelan, Laura Pausini and Mika at 01:01 CEST, May 15, 2022.

Saturday’s final was more than four hours long (the semi-finals took little over two hours), and it finished a few minutes after 01:00 CEST. DNS traffic to fan websites dropped from 86x to 45x at midnight, but it went up again to 49x more traffic when it was already 01:00 CEST in most of Europe and Ukraine was announced the winner of Eurovision 2022. This next chart shows Saturday’s May 14 final traffic change to fan sites:

We can also clearly see that on Sunday morning, at 09:00, there was a 20x peak to fan sites, and also at 11:00 (17%).

Now, let’s go deeper by looking at a minute by minute view (the previous charts show hourly data) of DNS traffic to fan sites. In the two semi-finals it's easy to see that the moment the finalists were announced, and the event was ending, around 23:12, was when traffic was higher. Here’s what the May 10 (yellow) and May 12 (green) two semi-finals fan sites growth looked like:

We can also spot some highlights in fan sites during the semi-final besides the finalists' announcement, which we saw were definitely the most popular moments of the two nights. First, on May 10 there was more traffic before the event (21:00) than on May 12, so people seem to have greater expectations of the first Eurovision 2022 event of the week. In terms of spikes (before the winners' announcements), we created a list of moments in time with more interest to the fan websites and connected them to the events that were taking place at that time in Eurovision (ordered by impact):

First semi-final, May 10
#1. 22:47 Sum up of all the songs.
#2. 22:25 Norway’s song (Subwoolfer, "Give That Wolf a Banana").
#3. 21:42 Bulgaria’s song (Intelligent Music Project, "Intention").
#4. 21:51 Moldova’s song (Zdob și Zdub and Advahov Brothers, "Trenulețul").
#5. 22:20 Greece’s song (Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord, "Die Together").

Second semi-final, May 12
#1. 21:22 Between Serbia (Konstrakta, "In corpore sano") and Azerbaijan (Nadir Rustamli, "Fade to Black").
#2. 22:48 Voting period starts.
#3. 22:30 Czech Republic’s song (We Are Domi, "Lights Off").
#4. 22:38 Laura Pausini & Mika performing (“Fragile” Sting cover song).
#5. 22:21 Belgium’s song (Jérémie Makiese, "Miss You").

How about the May 14 final? This chart (followed by a ranking list) shows DNS traffic spikes in fan sites on Saturday’s final:

Final, May 14
#1. 23:11 Between Serbia (Konstrakta, "In corpore sano") and Estonia (Stefan, "Hope").
#2. 23:33 Sum up of all the songs.
#3. 23:57 Voting ended.
#4. 23:19 Sum up of all the songs.
#5. 23:01 Ending of the United Kingdom’s song (Sam Ryder, "Space Man").

(UK’s performer and representative Sam Ryder with Graham Norton, the BBC commentator of Eurovision since 2009 — the BBC broadcasts the event since 1956.)

The broadcasters show

How about official national broadcaster websites? Around 23:00 CEST traffic to the aggregate of 40 broadcasters was generally higher on the semi-finals and final nights (represented in grey on the next chart). That’s more clear on the final at 23:00, when DNS traffic was 18% higher than in the previous Saturday (and 50% compared to the previous day). During the semi-finals the difference is more subtle, but at 23:00 traffic in both May 10 and 12 traffic was ~6% higher than in previous days.

When we focus on the minute by minute view also on the broadcaster sites but on the three Eurovision evenings, the highest growth in traffic is also during the final (like we saw in the fan sites), mainly after 23:00, which seems normal, considering that the final was much longer in time than the semi-finals that ended around that time.

During the final (represented in pink in the previous chart), there were some clear spikes. We’ve added them to a ranking that also shows what was happening in the event at that time.

Broadcaster site spikes. Final, May 14
#1. 21:52 Best moments clip of the two semi-finals
#2. 21:00 Contest starts
#3. 00:24 Sam Ryder, the UK representative (with the song "Space Man") being interviewed after reaching the #1 in the voting process.
#4. 01:09 Ukraine’s (Kalush Orchestra, "Stefania") performance as the winner
#5. 01:02 Ukraine was announced as the Eurovision 2022 winner.

Video platforms: the post-final growth

Eurovision uses video platforms like YouTube and TikTok to share all the songs, clips of the events and performers and there was also a live transmission on YouTube of the three nights. Given that, we looked at DNS traffic to the video platforms in an aggregate for the 40 participating countries. So, was there an impact to this well known and high performing social and video platforms? The short answer is: yes.

The final was also the most evident example, especially after 23:15, when all the 25 finalists songs already performed and the event had two more hours of non-participant performances, video clips that summarize the songs and the voting process — the famous moment in Europe to find out who will get from each of the 40 participant countries the maximum of 12 points.

In this comparison between the semi-finals and final day, we can see how on May 10, the day of the first semi-final, video platform traffic had more growth before the contest started, which is not that surprising given that it was the first Eurovision 2022 event and there was perhaps curiosity to check who were the other contestants (by then Eurovision had videos of them all on YouTube).

But the May 14 final shows more DNS traffic growth than the other Eurovision days after 23:16 (as we saw before, that was the time when all the finalists' songs had already been performed). The difference in traffic compared to the semi-finals was higher at 1:11 CEST. That was the moment that the final came to an end on Saturday night, and at that time it reached 31% more traffic to video platforms than on May 10, and 38% than on May 12.

Australia’s impact (with an eight hours difference)

Australia was one of the 40 participants, and it had a major time difference (there’s an eight-hour difference to CEST). Continuing to look at video platforms, DNS traffic in Australia was 22% higher at 23:00 CEST (07:00 local time) than it was in the previous Saturday and continued high around 17% of increase a few hours after. Before the 23:00 peak, traffic was 20% higher at 22:00 and 17% at 21:00, when the event was beginning.

The winners & social media

Social media in general in the 40 participating countries wasn’t as impacted, but there was a 01:00 CEST spike during the final at around the time the decision to choose the winner was between Ukraine and the UK — at 01:01 Ukraine was announced the winner of Eurovision 2022.

We can also see an impact on social media in Ukraine, when Kalush Orchestra’s "Stefania" song was announced the winner at Saturday’s, May 14, final (it was already after midnight, May 15). The usual traffic slowing down night trend that is seen in other days was clearly interrupted after 01:02 CEST (02:02 local time in Ukraine).

Conclusion: the Eurovision effect

When an event like Eurovision happens, there are different patterns on the Internet in the participating countries, usually all in Europe (although this year Australia was also there). Fan and broadcaster websites have specific impact because of the event, but in such a multimedia event, there are also some changes in video platforms’ DNS traffic.

And that trend goes as far as the Internet traffic of the participating countries at a more general level, something that seems to indicate that people, at least for some parts of Eurovision and in some countries, were more focused on their national TV broadcast.

The Internet is definitely a human-centric place, as we saw before in different moments like the 2022 Oscars, the Super Bowl, French elections, Ramadan or even the war on Ukraine and the impact on the open Internet in Russia.

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João Tomé|@emot

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