Rehearsals of the Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) as well as the host country, Sweden, will be shown in the Semi-Finals of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. The six countries will remain to be pre-qualified for the Grand Final, says the EBU on their website.
The idea is that rehearsal footage of the automatic qualifiers will be shown in the semi final in which they will vote. The Big 5 and Sweden will be divided over the semi finals during the Allocation Draw in late January. For scheduling reasons, Germany was already granted the right to vote and appear in the second Semi-Final.
“It will look so much better to show the Big Five and the host country on the Eurovision Song Contest stage, performing their act as it will be in the Grand Final,” says Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the contest on behalf of the EBU.
As a result of the new plans, the Big 5 countries will have to be present in Stockholm at least one or two days earlier than in the last few years. They will also have more rehearsal time than before.
“Important to note is that it will only be short versions of the rehearsals, not the entire songs,” said Sietse Bakker to ESC Daily in a first reaction. “We did not want to put them in between the other contestants, because that would make the broadcast too long.”
“Still, we believe showing rehearsal footage is better than videoclips. People will recognize these countries better during the final. I understand the people who say: ‘Let them join the semies!’, but this would effectively end the Big 5 and unfortunately this is not possible.”
Bakker also confirmed that all Big 5 countries were happy with the change, and did not mind the fact that they will have to stay in Stockholm longer.