The cost of winning the Eurovision Song Contest

The cost of winning the Eurovision Song Contest

The odds of the UK winning tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest are slim at 25/1 but for the eventual winners it can become a costly prize. NatWest Chief Economist Stephen Boyle takes a look at the cost of hosting the event.

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Stephen Boyle
NatWest Chief Economist
Blog Economic Analysis

13 May 2016

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 banner

What else could the money buy?


The Eurovision Song Contest is a costly endeavour. With countries like Azerbaijan spending £48m on hosting the event and with the IMF persuading Hungary to withdraw in 2010 due to the cost, the financials of hosting can’t be overestimated. Ahead of tonight’s competition, I’ve attempted to work out the real economic value of winning and hosting the Eurovision song contest.

SVT, Sweden’s national broadcaster has set aside a budget of £11 million for this year’s show.  What else could that money have got the broadcaster?

In the entertainment world, £11 million buys:

  • Three and a half episodes of BBC’s The Night Manager
  • One Premier League match, under the contract that comes into effect next season
  • Two series of Strictly Come Dancing
  • Three episodes of The X Factor
  • Five years worth of the Great British Bake Off
  • 3.7 million copies of Abba’s Waterloo on vinyl

Other popular buys would be:

  • 409,000 Big Macs                                                             
  • 38 average UK houses
  • 670 Ford Focus cars                                                        
  • 24,000 iPhone 6
  • 122,000 nights at a Premier Inn                 
  • 0.1% of the London Olympics
  • 95 feet of Crossrail                                                         
  • Quarter of a mile of HS2
  • One year at university for 460 students
  • The pay of 380 nurses
  • The remainder of Jamie Vardy’s contract with Leicester City

So why do cities splash the cash on Eurovision?

Firstly Eurovision tourism is big business. Like other major events, the ESC attracts visitors and publicity for the host city and country. The last time Sweden hosted the competition in Malmo the £17m they spent was practically offset by the £16m made in tourism spending from just over 32,000 tourists. 2014 host city Copenhagen estimated they generated over £13m from the ESC with over 39,000 visitors who created over 87,000 overnight stays for local hoteliers. 

All this tourism creates jobs. In 2012 Baku in Azerbaijan spent a total of £48m hosting the contest. The high cost can be partly attributed to the Baku Crystal Hall which was built specifically to host Eurovision. The construction of the Hall contributed to the creation of over 500 full time jobs – a welcome boost for a country that was less appealing to traditional Eurovision tourists. Last year’s host Vienna created the equivalent of 416 jobs in the hotel and restaurant sectors as well as in the arts, broadcasting, advertising and market research.

So – is it worth it?

It’s hard to be conclusive. Every host city has seen a modest boost in both short-term tourism and in their local economy. The longer-term benefits are harder to estimate but with over 180 million viewers worldwide, the international, positive exposure that comes as part of hosting is likely to dramatically increase tourism related revenue. Plus, there’s the kudos of winning, and in some eyes, that’s just as important. 

Economic impacts of Eurovision on recent host cities


Host city

Cost, £m

Full-time equivalent jobs created

Tourist visitors

Tourism spending, £m



Vienna, Austria






Copenhagen, Denmark






Malmo, Sweden






Baku, Azerbaijan





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