Editorial: Eurovision Asia – Finally Happening?

Australia in Eurovision

The rumours and reports regarding Eurovision Asia have intensified, however there is still no official confirmation from broadcasters. So, how likely is it that this contest will actually come to life? 

Eurovision Asia has been a rumoured concept for a number of years, but plans have never truly come to fruition. In August last year, the official Eurovision twitter account tweeted that the Eurovision Song Contest format was coming to Asia.  However, no further details were published by official Eurovision sources in the following months, leading fans and media to doubt the likelihood of the contest being run.

However, after 9News journalist Brendon Wolf published an article revealing the Gold Coast’s plans to host the inaugural Eurovision Asia Song Contest, it seems more likely that it could come to life in the near future. But without official confirmation, we can not truly be sure that this is a confirmed event. Regardless, it is clear that it is a project that the Gold Coast City Council, Blink TV, SBS and EBU are all interested in developing.

The 9News article (written on the 1 November) outlined the ambitions of the Gold Coast City mayor Tom Tate to host an event that reaches “over 200 million people”. It is clear that the mayor understands the size and influence of a possible Eurovision Asia contest, stating how it reaches “over 200 million people”. What is promising is that Tate understands the magnitude of hosting an event like this, and is clearly prepared to take on responsibility.

Gold Coast City Council Report

In a report published by the Gold Coast City Council, their intentions to host the inaugural Eurovision Asia Song Contest are made clear. It is labeled as a ‘Major Event Opportunity’, establishing that it is not yet entirely confirmed, however the details and plans established throughout their report is nothing less than impressive and ambitious (in a good way).

The report states that Blink TV and SBS will be working in conjunction with Gold Coast City Council to host Eurovision Asia, with the aim of creating a “close replica of the international Eurovision Song Contest”. The format of the song contest has proven to be very successful, therefore it is a smart move to imitate the selection, performance and voting structure of the original contest. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At this stage, the event is planned to be held from the 30th to the 7th of December 2019 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It further states that “Eurovision Asia will be held over eight days and will include red carpet arrivals, press meet and greets, multiple rehearsal shows, finishing with a three-hour live broadcast of the grand final show on the Saturday night”. For a first-time event, this will be a bold undertaking, however a detailed schedule is in place. The draft event schedule outlines proceedings from delegation arrivals on Saturday 30 November to the final on Saturday 7 December. Featured within the week is rehearsals, jury voting and press meet and greets. Further, additional activities including a EuroAsia Club and the Eurovision Asia Village will “help create a festival atmosphere across the city”.

Their extensive plan continues with a draft media announcement schedule, consisting of staggered announcements. It supposedly commences in October 2018 with “announcements of partners, artists and sponsors”, however we are yet to learn about any further details (apart from information obtained from the Gold Coast City Council report). During November 2018, the host city and venue should be announced, with the participating countries, theme/artwork and ticket details announced by May 2019. Stage design, show presenters, competing artists and songs will follow, culminating in the December 2019 show.

Is the schedule realistic?

If this purposeful plan is followed and the timings are met, the inaugural Eurovision Asia would likely be a great success. As seen in the past, announcements have been made regarding this version of the contest, with no progress made. However, this report by the Gold Coast City Council is the strongest evidence we’ve had yet regarding the development of this contest. As it is already mid-November of 2018, it appears as if announcements are behind schedule, therefore there may be possible delays. Regardless, the detailed plan made in conjunction with the local council is a substantial indicator that Eurovision Asia may truly come to life.

There is a clear intention to make Gold Coast a cultural, musical and vibrant hub for the week. The report highlighted that the contest will involve “high-profile artists from 16 Asia Pacific countries”, with potential countries including “China, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates”. The original Eurovision Song Contest, it started out small, and developed organically. It is important that a similar approach is taken with Eurovision Asia. 16 countries IS ideal, providing a large, diverse show, without being too adventurous for the first ever edition of the contest.

The report has established a plan and schedule for Eurovision Asia that is ambitious and exciting, yet achievable. It is the best piece of evidence yet that the contest will actually be held.

SBS and Blink TV

SBS and Blink TV have been successful partners throughout Australia’s participation at the Eurovision Song Contest. They are now teaming up to develop Eurovision Asia, with the intention to host the inaugural contest in the Gold Coast. As the spiritual home of Eurovision in Australia, SBS is the ideal broadcaster for Eurovision Asia, with the ability to implement their knowledge and passion of the contest. As a production company specialising in the Eurovision Song Contest, it makes sense for Blink TV to be involved in producing Eurovision Asia with SBS.

The Gold Coast City Council report stated that “Blink TV and SBS were also successful in their request to the European Broadcasting Union to secure a licence to replicate the Eurovision format in the Asia region (Eurovision Asia Song Contest) from 2019 – 2031.” This is incredibly encouraging, and highlights the ambition of Blink TV and SBS to create a long-lasting format. Further, they estimate a cumulative international live television audience for the broadcast as “approximately 200 million viewers”. There is a clear understanding of the size of their production, with Blink TV and SBS seemingly covering all the bases in terms of early preparation.

Still in development?

The only element of doubt in regards to Eurovision Asia coming to life is that there has been no official announcement from Blink TV or SBS. In fact, outgoing SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid highlighted to TV Tonight last month that organising Eurovision Asia was proving challenging. However, he also stated that they “will go back to working on it” after announcing plans for an Australian national final. With that announcement about ‘Australia Decides’ recently made, an official announcement for Eurovision Asia from SBS/Blink TV could be forthcoming. Regardless, it was made clear by SBS that “Eurovision Asia is still in development”.

They are continuing to have “a number of discussions on bringing the event to life, however nothing is confirmed at this stage”. If an official statement is eventually made confirming their hosting of the inaugural contest, we can be sure that Eurovision Asia is no longer a concept, but a reality. Until then, however, there are no certainties. 

Australia Decides

There is also validity behind the notion that the Gold Coast is establishing themselves as the home of Eurovision in Australia. As hosts of Australia’s inaugural national final ‘Australia Decides’ in February 2019, it makes sense that the Gold Coast would host the first edition of Eurovision Asia. It is a significant event opportunity for the Gold Coast, and their ambition and passion towards the contests reflects this.

What more, by using the Gold Coast Convention Centre to host ‘Australia Decides’, the Gold Coast City Council, Blink TV and SBS will be able to grasp an understanding of hosting a major live Eurovision event. By using the Australian national final as a trial, they would likely be able to tweak any necessary aspects and produce an impressive show for Eurovision Asia. Everything is lined up well in terms of logistics and timing for the contest.

Final verdict

Ultimately, we can not be certain that Eurovision Asia will go ahead in 2019 without official announcements from SBS and Blink TV. What can be ascertained however, is that a valid, ambitious and exciting format is in development. All the signs are leading to a potential inaugural contest held in the Gold Coast in December 2019. The recent Gold Coast City Council report is the best evidence available, with a detailed schedule for a contest to be held next year. There is a clear ambition from SBS and Blink TV to establish Eurovision Asia, and this is extremely promising. If plans do not develop as hoped in time for a December 2019 contest, it is still highly likely Eurovision Asia will come to fruition in the near future.

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