It’s finally happening…six decades late…”American Song Contest” to launch in 2021
The Sweden-based company, best known for producing the Keanu Reeves POP-TV series Swedish Dicks, has picked up the rights to the format used by the European Broadcasting Union to launch the “American Song Contest” in 2021. No network has yet signed on to the project, which is being developed by Brain Academy’s Anders Lenhoff and Peter Settman alongside Christer Björkman and Ola Melzig, both long-term ESC veterans who have worked on over 20 Eurovision Song Contests between them.
Now in its 64th year, the Eurovision Song Contest brings countries together every spring – this year’s contest is this week, in fact – to decide on which country has submitted the best entry of the year. This year’s festivities are being held in Tel Aviv, Israel after last year’s entry from the country, “Toy” by pop hip hop dance artist Netta, won the contest in 2018. The finals for this year’s contest will be held this Saturday, but will NOT be airing in the United States this year, as Logo TV declined to renew its broadcast rights to the contest; the cable network gave ESC its first-ever airing in 2016, and also carried it in 2017 and 2018. There was some hope that Netflix might stream the finals to the US due to an upcoming Eurovision-based comedy movie from Will Ferrell set to air on the streaming service later this year, but nothing has been worked out as yet. As it stands now, US residents can catch the second semi-final live today, at 3 PM ET/12 PM PT and the finals on Saturday, same time slots, only on the internet, and then only if they have VPN service or if they can find an EBU member who is not geo-blocking their feed of the show, such as Sweden’s SVT network; otherwise, the show (and much of the official Eurovision YouTube output) is blocked from US viewing.
Although I was aware of ESC as early as 1974, when Spain’s Mocedades had a US top ten hit with their song “Eres Tu” after finishing in second place at Eurovision the previous spring, I didn’t really become a huge fan until the show began airing in the US in 2016, but as our readers and listeners know, I’ve gone full metal gonzo on the contest each year since then, immersing myself in the history of the contest, featuring daily or near-daily posts with extensive profiles of each song and artist being posted right here as well as two of our sister sites, The Kirkham Report and Planet BiblioMusica, and this year, I began offering liveblog coverage during both semi-finals and the Grand Final on Saturday, right here on eCinemaOne (transcripts posted to the other two sites shortly after live coverage ends).
I for one remain skeptical that the format will work in the US now – the US TV networks are more interested in ratings than tradition, and something like this will need a HUGE commitment – probably a minimum of TEN YEARS guaranteed coverage – in order to get over here. Hey, CW Network – here’s your chance to move beyond those “I Heart Radio” specials and make something of your own to commit to; I’d love to see you team up with the producers and help try and make this work here. Of course, you’ll have to get clearances from your affiliates for prime time to go past 10 PM on each telecast, but three times a year all in one week – two semi finals and one final, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it? But then again, if you do the state finals too…then you’re probably talking about a HUGE commitment here…and that’s what it’s going to take to make this work in the US…
Also, here’s a suggestion – take it a slightly different direction than what you plan now – don’t make it about the 50 states…make it about “America”- as in North, Central and South America – something like that might actually work…
However they decide to go, I wish nothing but the best of luck to “American Song Contest” – we’ll track it’s progress and keep you informed on what’s going on here and on our two sister sites The Kirkham Report and Planet Bibliomusica as well.