The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 was the 61st of its kind and was held at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden thanks to Måns Zelmerlöw's win the previous year in Vienna. The preliminary dates were determined at the 2015 Head of Delegations meeting to be on the 10th, 12th and 14 May 2016 - the same as that of the 2011 contest in Germany. These dates were made official with the announcement of the host city on 8 July 2015.
42 nations took part in Stockholm. Returning to the contest this year was Ukraine, who sat out 2015 due to financial problems. Australia also returned to the Contest, despite Jon Ola Sand stating that they wouldn't return if they didn't win, however, the country passed through the semifinal stage. Bosnia and Herzegovina returned after their last participation in 2012, BHRT was able to secure the funds needed to participate. Both Bulgaria and Croatia made their returns as well, their last participations being in 2013. Portugal decided to withdraw, and Romania was forced to withdraw three weeks before the contest due to unpaid debts.
It is the third time for Stockholm to host the contest, and the second time the Globe has hosted the event - the last being in 2000. It is also the first time since the new millennium a venue has hosted the contest twice.
Two smaller venues in the Globe complex acted as supplementary areas: the Annexet housed the delegations and the Hovet acted as the main press centre.
The contest was won by Ukraine with the song 1944 by Jamala, which broke the scoring record set by Alexander Rybak in 2009 and won despite only being second in both halves of the split vote system. Rounding out the top 3 was jury winner Australia and televote winner Russia, it was the second consecutive year that the jury and the televote did not agree on the winner.
The Czech Republic qualified for the first time since its 2007 debut, while Greece's and Bosnia & Herzegovina's 100% qualification streaks were snapped and none of the Nordic countries in the semifinals advanced. Among the Big 5, France finished the highest in 6th place, their best result in 14 years and first top 10 since 2009.
After much speculations, it was revealed on 14 December 2015 that 2013 presenter Petra Mede and defending Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw would be the 2016 presenters. Both had been the heavy favorites for the job, and Zelmerlöw becomes the 4th former contestant to present the show the year directly following his win, joining Toto Cutugno, Marie N and Eldar Gasimov in that select group.Petra Mede joins Katie Boyle and Jacqueline Joubert as the only people to present the contest more than once.
This year's theme is Come Together. The event's executive producer, Martin Österdahl, explains the meaning like this: "The Eurovision Song Contest is never about borders, politics or ideologies. It is about reaching across all the boundaries that separates us human beings from each other".
The two Semi-Finals and the Grand Final will be broadcasted with international sign performances, and three interpreters will translate Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede live from a studio at SVT. Nine sign-language performers from Lithuania, Germany, Iceland, Russia and Denmark will perform all participating songs in international sing language.
- "I want to give the message behind the song, so that hearing impaired people can also be a part of the show. The Eurovision Song Contest will be my debut as sign performer and I’ve found my talent" - Laith Fathulla, sign performer for the 2016 Contest
Produced by the Camp David production team, the postcards this year detailed a day in the personal and professional life of each artist in their home country.
Full video with explanation here.
From 2016, there will be a new voting format. The professional juries and televoters from each country will each award a separate set of points from 1 to 8, 10 and 12. The procedure will go ahead as normal, with the spokespersons announcing the jury votes. The televotes will be counted and combined and announced by the hosts at the end of the show with the country with the fewest televotes being announced first, leading up to the eventual winner.
This will create more excitement for the viewers and will likely decrease the odds of songs finishing with Nul Points.
- The artist Xavier Naidoo was due to represent Germany at the 2016 Contest, but due to various negative reactions from fans, he was withdrawn by NDR on 21 November 2015. Germany made a national final (Unser Lied für Stockholm) in order to search for their artist and song.
- It was announced on 22 April 2016 that Romania could not participate in the 2016 contest due to outstanding debts by the Romanian broadcaster TVR. Ovidiu Anton would have participated in the second semifinal with the song Moment of Silence. However, the single was still part of the official CD of the contest. Additionally, all Romanian fans and journalists who received accreditation prior to the withdrawal did not lose it, they were still be able to attend the event as part of the "International Delegation", made up of all fans and media from non-participating countries.
- Private channel Pro TV offered to take over the airing of the contest, but the EBU rejected the request as the channel is neither a full nor an associate member station.
- Moldovan representative Lidia Isac invited Ovidiu Anton to perform her entry Falling Stars with her as a duet, but Anton politely declined, citing this was her moment to shine.
Flag policy controversy
- On 27 April 2016, the EBU Reference Group approved a policy where certain flags were banned or had restrictions for their use inside the venue. Banned flags included but weren't limited to; the Welsh flag, the flag of Kosovo, the flag of Islamic State and restricted usage of the LGBT Pride flag. The official document can be seen here.
- News about this policy quickly spread, causing anger among fans expected to attend the shows, leading to the EBU relaxing most of the restrictions. This allowed fans to carry regional flags to the venue, but the Islamic State flag was still banned.
On 13 February 2016 the band Stadio was crowned winner of Festival di Sanremo. At the final press conference, they declined the invite to represent Italy in Stockholm due to a tour that they prepared before. So RAI was forced to choose Francesca Michielin, who was second at the Festival.
- On 9 May 2016, during the Jury Final, the Russian jurors livestreamed themselves on Periscope  where one juror showed a scorecard, where it was evident that the juror was voting up The Netherlands and down-voting Moldova and Hungary, also citing she would vote for Armenia because her husband was Armenian. The EBU issued a statement a day later that the offending juror Anastasia Slotskaya would be dismissed and her vote declared invalid while the votes of the remaining four jurors would stand. Russian broadcaster RTR issued an apology to Armenian broadcaster AMPTV and Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS for their jury's actions.
Sanctioning of Armenia
- In the broadcast of the first semifinal, Armenian representative Iveta Mukuchyan displayed the flag of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on camera in the green room during one of the recaps, which is a violation of contest rules regarding making political statements.
- During the winners' press conference following the show, a journalist from the Swedish publication Aftonbladet inquired about the incident. Mukuchyan cited: "My thoughts are with my Motherland. I want peace everywhere." An Azeri journalist blasted the Armenian delegation and the EBU for Mukuchyan's actions. When Azerbaijan representative Samra Rahimli was asked about the incident, she stated: "Eurovision is a song contest and it's all about the music."
- As a result, AMPTV was sanctioned by the EBU Reference Group on 11 May 2016 and instigated a zero-tolerance policy, with further violations of the rules resulting in immediate disqualification from the 2016 contest and/or any subsequent editions. Additionally, the incident was censored on the official contest DVD.
Danish Jury Vote
- It was revealed after the contest that Danish juror Hilda Heick had got her votes mixed up for both semifinal 2 and the final - she had misunderstood the ranking system and ranked her top favorite (Australia) as her least favorite with her actual least favorite (Georgia) getting her highest rank, as a result the Danish jury points for the final would have been drastically different. For example, in the final Australia would have received 12 points instead of 10, Netherlands would have received 10 points instead of 7, France and Russia would have scored 2 and 3 points respectively instead of no points, and the United Kingdom and Ukraine would have failed to score completely. The overall result would not have been affected, yet the margin between first-place Ukraine and runner-up Australia would have been reduced from 23 points to 9.
- Following Jamala's victory, a petition on Change.org started circulating by angry fans calling on the EBU to reverse the results claiming her song was political in nature, gaining over 250,000 signatures. Additionally, a video started circulating of Jamala performing her song back in 2015 which many saw as a violation of the contest's rules. The EBU released statements regarding these issues, saying that the results would stand and that the video did not break any rules due to a low view total.
- In the days following the contest, many fans in the United States, Canada, Brazil and even some of the participating countries (ex. Germany, Austria) as well as some Asian countries were angered to find that all of the 2016 live performance videos from both the semis and the final, along with the interval act "Love Love, Peace Peace" and many of the inter-song postcards (except for those of Ukraine, Australia and Russia), were geo-blocked on the ESC YouTube channel with all its other content remaining intact. The communications manager for the contest explained that "rights limitations" were the explanation for the blocking and has promised to submit the feedback regarding the issue to the EBU. In the case of the United States, it's been speculated that the blockage was due to Viacom, which owns Logo TV, gaining the broadcast rights to the contest's American airing.
The semi-final allocation draw was held on 25 January 2016 at Stockholm City Hall, and hosted by Alexandra Pascalidou and Jovan Radomir. The insignia handover ceremony took place before the draw began, officially beginning the countdown to the contest.
On 23 September 2015, SVT announced that the six pre-qualified countries (host country Sweden and the Big Five) would perform in the semifinal they are allocated to vote in while still keeping their status as finalists. The performances will consist of footage recorded during their respective voting semi's second dress rehearsal instead of the use of clips from their preview videos.
The pots are as follows, calculated by the EBU's voting providers Digame and based on voting patterns over the past 10 years:
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4||Pot 5||Pot 6||Finalists|
Bosnia and Herzegovina
| Czech Republic|
- As per a request by IBA on 21 September 2015 which was approved by the EBU Reference Group, Israel was pre-allocated to compete in semifinal 2 as its Memorial Day holiday fell on the day of semifinal 1.
- Due to scheduling conflicts, Germany was pre-allocated to broadcast and vote in semifinal 2 as per a request from ARD/NDR, which was approved by the Reference Group.
- Sweden was pre-allocated to broadcast and vote in semifinal 1 as mentioned by Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand before the start of the semi allocation draw.
|Kaliopi||1996 (prequalifier), 2012|
|Bojan Jovović (Highway)||2005 (with No Name)|
|Greta Salóme||2012 (with Jónsi)|
Semi Final One
Semi Final Two
|02||Poland||Michał Szpak||Color of Your Life||6||151|
|03||Switzerland||Rykka||The Last of Our Kind||18||28|
|04||Israel||Hovi Star||Made of Stars||7||147|
|05||Belarus||Ivan||Help You Fly||12||84|
|06||Serbia||Sanja Vučić ZAA||Goodbye (Shelter)||10||105|
|09||Lithuania||Donny Montell||I've Been Waiting For This Night||English||4||222|
|10||Australia||Dami Im||Sound of Silence||1||330|
|11||Slovenia||ManuElla||Blue and Red||14||57|
|12||Bulgaria||Poli Genova||If Love Was a Crime||English, Bulgarian||5||220|
|13||Denmark||Lighthouse X||Soldiers of Love||English||17||34|
|14||Ukraine||Jamala||1944||Crimean Tatar, English||2||287|
|16||Georgia||Young Georgian Lolitaz||Midnight Gold||9||123|
|18||Belgium||Laura Tesoro||What's The Pressure||3||274|
All countries voted. The final took place on 14 May 2016. Sweden's place in the running order was decided during the Head of Delegations meetings in March 2016, and it was decided that Sweden would perform 9th on the night. The Big 5 drew their half allocations during the opening ceremony on 8 May 2016.
- Andorra - RTVA confirmed that Andorra will not participate in 2016 due to financial difficulties.
- Liechtenstein - 1FLTV confirmed that Liechtenstein will not debut in 2016, but a 2017 start is being considered.
- Luxembourg - RTL confirmed that Luxembourg will not return for 2016.
- Monaco - TMC confirmed that Monaco will not return for 2016.
- Portugal - RTP confirmed that Portugal will withdraw for 2016 due to restructuring at the broadcaster. However, they are not ruling out participation in 2017 and will broadcast the 2016 contest.
- Slovakia - RTVS confirmed that Slovakia will not return for 2016.
- Turkey - TRT announced on 2 November 2015 that Turkey will not return for 2016. The news was later confirmed by OGAE Turkey.
- Additionally, on 3 June 2015 the EBU has denied the rumors that Kosovo will debut (as it is not a full or associate EBU member) and China will participate as a guest. China broadcast the contest on Hunan TV with its own commentating team.
- Cable channel Logo TV broadcast the grand final live in the United States on May 14. Due to rights limitations, Justin Timberlake's interval act performance was not shown and was replaced with "The Grey People" from the first semifinal.
- Unlike the previous 2 years, cable channel OUTtv did not broadcast the 2016 contest in Canada due to viewer concerns that the commentators were talking over every song and had no knowledge of the contest in general. There had been a rumor that the channel hoped to go live for the 2017 contest in Ukraine (the 2014 and 2015 contests were aired on delay).
- ↑ http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=173093
- ↑ http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=stockholm_to_host_2016_eurovision_song_contest
- ↑ http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=eurovision_2016_to_be_broadcast_with_international_sign_performances
- ↑ http://escxtra.com/2015/11/21/ndr-withdraws-xavier-naidoo-from-eurovision/
- ↑ http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=tvr_romania_no_longer_entitled_to_take_part_in_eurovision_2016
- ↑ http://eurovoix.com/2016/05/09/russia-jurors-periscope-show/
- ↑ http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=ebu_issues_statement_about_jury_voting_in_russia
- ↑ http://eurovoix.com/2016/05/11/armenia-ebu-will-sanction-flag-incident/