Blog: Does size matter?

Picture: eurovision.tvYesterday we learned that next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö and the venue of the event will be Malmö Arena that can take up to 15,000 spectators. Another option for SVT would have been the new Friends Arena in Solna, Stockholm County. That arena will be the biggest in Nordic countries when it’s completed later this year. Why didn’t SVT choose it?

During the press conference in Baku, EBU announced that this contest can’t keep growing bigger and bigger year after year and that there must be a plan how some smaller countries and countries with less money in use could host Eurovision Song Contest. SVT now sets an example for others?

Sweden have hosted the contest already four times succesfully so next year’s contest isn’t ‘once in a lifetime -experience’ for SVT and they don’t need to prove others that yes, we can host the contest and we have big arenas here.

‘Too big and too expensive’, said the organisers yesterday when asked why Friends Arena wasn’t chosen. Too big for Eurovision but not for Melodifestivalen? Price is a poor excuse. Real reason must be that Ice Hockey World Championships will take place in Stockholm and Helsinki next year and that SVT don’t want to compete with others on the size of the arena. According to SVT itself there’s also the reason that SVT doesn’t have enough capacity and staff to cover the six-week work in April and May in as big arena as Friends Arena. Melodifestivalen takes just one week which is a bit easier for SVT.

Graphic shows the approximate seating capacity of Eurovision arenas 2000-2013 Picture: ESC Webs

But have the arenas been so gigantic in the recent years? Size of the arenas are clearly growing but seating capacity not so much as can be seen from the graphic above. While the arenas have grown, stages are taking more and more space from the audience as happened in Moscow 2009 when the stage was out of proportion. The exact opposite happened in Copenhagen, 2001, when the stage was a small dot somewhere. Also SVT’s Director General Eva Hamilton said that “big audience is no guarantee for a good TV show, it might even be the opposite”.

This morning the Executive Producer Martin Österdahl told that as they did in 2000, they will now bring the contest to a new level but it doesn’t mean constant growing of arenas.

SVT is clearly focusing on how the show looks on television and not how many people can be squeezed under the same roof. For that purpose Malmö and Malmö Arena are really good hosts and we’ll see a great show in May!