The format of the contest has changed over the history of the contest, however the simple processes have remained the same throughout each edition of the contest. Simply put:
Participant countries submit songs
These songs are performed live at the main Eurovision contest program
This program is broadcasted simultaneously to all the nations across the EBU network
A country is represented by a television broadcaster, usually the national public broadcaster. It is up to the broadcaster to choose which artist and song will represent the country at Eurovision each year.
The program is hosted by one of the participating countries. Usually, the country that wins the year before is the country that hosts the next year. For example, Austria won Eurovision 2014, therefore Austria will host Eurovision 2015. This is not always the case, as the winning country can decline the opportunity to host, however in recent years, we have not seen this situation.
As of 2008, there are two semi-finals, and one Grand Final. The first semi-final is on a Tuesday night, the second on a Thursday and the Final is held on a Saturday night. Usually, it is within the month of May, however that has not always been the case.
Within these shows, each country presents their song, which cannot exceed 3 minutes. After all the songs are presented, the countries then engage in voting. Voting numbers are broadcast within the program, and the public can vote for the songs they like, provided they are not voting for their own country. National juries also vote, as the voting is split 50/50 to ensure that the best song wins. After the voting period is complete, the votes are added up, and the winner is the act with the most votes.
The show itself is hosted by one or more presenters, and they usually comprise of the hosting nations’ television presenters, comedians, performers or actors. These hosts present the show in primarily English, however information about voting, for example, is given in English, French, and the native language of that country.
In-between the performances of each song, there are ‘postcards.’ These are small clips which provide time for the stage crew to set up for the next song. For example, Azerbaijan used the postcards in the 2012 edition of Eurovision to promote the country, but Denmark in 2014 featured the artists representing their countries flag by different means. Examples are shown below:
An interval act is a performance or clip that is used whilst the votes are being counted. There is also an opening act, which is of a similar nature, but to open up the show. These interval acts are organised by the host broadcaster. For example, Australia was invited to perform as an interval act in 2014 for the second semi-final, which is where we sent Jessica Mauboy to sing ‘Sea of Flags.’