Since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is Europe’s favourite TV show. After more than five decades featuring some 1,100 songs, the contest has become a modern classic, strongly embedded into Europe’s collective mind. Read on to find out how it all started over half a century ago…
In 2005, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 50th anniversary by picking the best entry to date.
After 56 years, the database with Eurovision Song Contest facts and figures, stories and anecdotes is huge! A true, die-hard fan knows how many points Luxembourg got in 1980 (56), who came last in 1972 (Malta, with 48 points) and how many times the Netherlands got 12 points in 1996 (once, from Austria).
Because no one can expect you to become a living Eurovision Song Contest encyclopedia, Eurovision.tv takes you through the contest’s history in fast forward. It’s all you need to know before you dive into the rich history of the Eurovision Song Contest…
How it all began
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) was formed on 12th February 1950 by 23 broadcasting organisations from Europe and the Mediterranean at a conference in Devon, United Kingdom. It was on the 6th of June, 1954, that Montreux became the venue for the first transmission by the EBU’s Eurovision Network of the Narcissus Festival and its flower-bedecked procession floats.
“Did you know that not only stars like ABBA, Celine Dion, Cliff Richard and Julio Iglesias took part, but also dance act Riverdance thanks its fame to the Eurovision Song Contest?”
The first Eurovision viewers eagerly watched on four million television sets in homes, bars, and shop windows in Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In 1955, the EBU came up with the idea of an international song contest whereby countries, represented by their respective public broadcasters, would participate in one television show, to be transmitted simultaneously in all represented nations.
This was conceived during a meeting in Monaco in 1955 by Marcel Bezençon, a Frenchman working for the EBU. The competition was based upon the Italian Festival di Sanremo, held for the first time in 1951, and was also seen as a technological experiment in live television: in those days, it was a very ambitious project to join many countries together in a wide-area international network.
Satellite television did not exist yet at that time, and the Eurovision Network comprised a terrestrial microwave network. Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne was born!
Without interruption, the Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast every year since 1956, which makes it one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. In 2003, the first ever Junior Eurovision Song Contest took place, while the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated her 50th anniversity 2005. Viewers picked ABBA’s Waterloo as best ever Eurovision Song Contest song.
2008 running saw a record of 43 represented countries, as Azerbaijan and San Marino joined the family.
The competition has been broadcast throughout Europe, but also in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States, even though these countries do not participate. In 2010, the format will be launched outside of Europe so that various other parts of the world will be introduced to the concept behind the show.