×

Eurovision Song Contest Watched by More Than 180 Million Viewers

The Eurovision Song Contest, which featured a controversial appearance by Madonna, was watched by 182 million viewers across 40 markets, the European Broadcasting Union said Tuesday.

This year’s May 18 final, held in Tel Aviv and lasting nearly four hours, drew a 36.7% audience share, up a percentage point from last year, the EBU said. The sometimes campy but beloved competition was also watched online by 40 million unique viewers from 225 territories via YouTube. The great majority of those watchers were under 35.

The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence took home the grand prize with the song “Arcade,” the first win for his country in 44 years. The songs from Italy and Russia came in second and third, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, the contest garnered strong ratings in some of those nations. Nearly three out of four TV viewers were tuned in to the final in the Netherlands, an overall average of 4.5 million viewers, according to the EBU. In Italy, which began competing in 2011, the final delivered 3.4 million viewers for state broadcaster RAI, a 5% increase from last year.

In Israel, which automatically enjoyed hosting rights because it won last year’s contest, the final received a 63.2% viewing share.

The biggest audience, for the ninth year in a row, was in Germany, Europe’s most populous country (excluding Russia). The contest averaged 7.6 million viewers.

Madonna’s appearance fueled intense interest, both in the run-up to her performance, which was not formally approved by Eurovision organizers until the last minute, and in her set. Sporting her newest fashion accessory, a pirate-like eyepatch, she opened with “Like a Prayer,” which some viewers complained she sang off-pitch. Also, two of her backup dancers, their arms draped around each other, had an Israeli and a Palestinian flag sewn on the back of their jackets, which an insider told Variety was meant as a message of peace.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The

    'Walking Dead' Star Christian Serratos in Talks for Selena Series at Netflix

    Christian Serratos is in negotiations to star in the upcoming Netflix series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla, Variety has confirmed with sources. The series was announced back in December and is described as a coming of age story following Selena (Serratos) as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: 'American Horror Story' Makes 'Suddenly Last Summer' Sizzle Again

    FX Network’s “American Horror Story” returns for a ninth season next month, and promos for the next chapter of the anticipated series, dubbed ‘AHS 1984,’ have been airing frequently across cable television throughout August. In the short yet effective spot (see below), the Motels’ melancholic, moody “Suddenly Last Summer” plays as aerial footage of an [...]

  • Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star

    Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps to Star in Multi-Camera Comedy Series for Netflix

    Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps are headed to Netflix. The streamer has ordered a multi-camera comedy series starring the two comedians titled “The Upshaws.” The series centers on a working-class Africian American family in Indiana struggling to make it work and make it right without the blueprints to do it. Sykes will executive produce and [...]

  • Vader Streams Shuts Down

    Vader Streams Shut Down by Hollywood Studios

    A coalition of Hollywood studios and streaming companies announced on Tuesday that they have shut down Vader Streams, which was once a popular source of pirated TV content. The service went offline in early May under mysterious circumstances, leading to speculation that the operator had either absconded or been forced out of business. The Alliance [...]

  • Søren-Sveistrup

    Netflix Teams With 'The Killing' Creator for Crime Thriller 'The Chestnut Man'

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Further expanding its Scandinavian footprint, Netflix has announced its second Danish original series, “The Chestnut Man,” a police thriller based on “The Killing” creator Søren Sveistrup’s popular novel. The streaming giant will team with Sveistrup’s SAM Productions, minority owned by Studiocanal, part of Vivendi Canal Plus Group, to deliver this noir-influenced literary [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    ICM Blasts Writers Guild Over Withdrawal of State Lawsuit

    ICM Partners has slammed the leaders of the Writers Guild of America over its decision to withdraw from its state court lawsuit in favor of refiling the action in federal court. The agency, which was sued in April by the guild and eight WGA members over charging allegedly illegal packaging fees, issued a statement Tuesday [...]

  • succession

    'Succession' Renewed for Season 3 at HBO

    “Succession” has scored an early Season 3 renewal at HBO. The news comes as the critically-acclaimed drama series is just two episodes into its second season. Season 1 of the series was recently nominated for five Emmy Awards, including for best drama series. “We are elated that ‘Succession’ and its exploration of wealth, power and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content