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The Eurovision Song Contest secured its position as the world’s most-viewed live music event, with some 182 million people watching this year’s edition of the flashy, four-hour singing competition show. This year’s grand final, held May 18 in Tel Aviv, Israel, attracted additional attention thanks to a controversial guest performance by Madonna.
Eurovision drew a 36.7 percent share of the viewing audience across 40 European territories, organizers the European Broadcasting Union said Tuesday. That’s a point up on last year’s event and more than double the average primetime viewing share (16.7 percent) for the channels that carried the show. Some 40 million unique viewers from 225 territories also watched live via YouTube.
The Netherlands’ singing son Duncan Laurence took home the grand prize with the song Arcade — the first Dutch Eurovision win in 44 years. An average of 4.5 million Dutch viewers tuned in, a 73.4 percent share and biggest audience in five years for local channel NPO/Avrotos.
Host country Israel racked up a 63.2 percent audience share, while in Italy, the final delivered 3.4 million viewers for state broadcaster RAI, a 5 percent increase from last year. The biggest overall audience for Eurovision 2019 was in Germany, where 7.6 million watched.
Madonna’s Eurovision performance, which was heavily hyped in the lead-up to the show, helped fuel interest. The singer made headlines around the world when, during her live performance of “Future,” two of backup dancers turned their backs to the audience, revealing Israeli and Palestinian flags sewn on the back of their jackets. The two embraced in a gesture of peace.
Eurovision, which celebrated its 64th anniversary this year, might soon be heading to the U.S. Swedish production company Brain Academy has signed an exclusive licensing deal with the European Broadcasting Union for the format and hopes to launch an American version of the show in 2021.
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