For five years in a row, Puzzel has partnered with digame GmbH to deliver live voting for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Every spring, millions of people across Europe, the UK and Australia gather in front of their television screens to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. When voting opens, they pick up their phones to cast their votes and cheer on their favourite songs. But what happens behind the scenes of the world’s biggest live music event? Where do the votes go? And how are they counted?
Here’s your sneak peek behind the stage curtain!
digame has been the official voting partner of the European Broadcasting Union for the Eurovision Song Contest since 2004. Each year, the company works with a selected number of telecom providers to collect and count the votes during the live semi-final and grand final shows.
Puzzel has managed the live SMS voting for Norway for the past five years. “Because of a very high voting participation during the Eurovision Song Contest, it is very important to have partners that run high performance platforms,” digame project manager Josie Türk explained. “Puzzel is a telecommunications partner that we can rely on to handle huge amount of votes in a very short amount of time.”
While we’re sworn to secrecy around the total number of votes we process every year, we can tell you that Norwegians are very active voters compared to other countries. You would be amazed how many votes can be cast in just 30 minutes.
Lights, camera, action!
Puzzel has provided televoting solutions to some of the most-watched television shows in Norway over the last 10 years. The biggest titles include Idol, Big Brother, The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.
Each show requires a bespoke configuration that Puzzel’s flexible cloud contact centre solution is able to provide. For the Eurovision Song Contest, Puzzel manages all live SMS voting and then transmits the final result to digame’s central voting platform, called the Pan European Response Platform (PERP).
Eurovision viewers are only able to vote for their favourite song 20 times and cannot vote for their own country. For each vote that is cast, Puzzel sends an automatic message to confirm the vote has been received, and if within the regulations, approved.
“SMS is still the most comfortable and easy method to vote, and of course the connection to other SMS platforms are very standardised and secure, which makes it very ideal for us,” Josie explained. Puzzel Product Manager Harald Bakken added: “Internet voting is more vulnerable to hackers and people are used to voting through SMS”.
Testing, testing … one, two, three!
Preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest begin six months prior to the competition. The full voting process is tested multiple times to ensure it runs smoothly on the day. “We send individual text messages to each competition number weeks before the show and again just hours before the show,” Harald explained.
Security is another top priority for such a large-scale TV show. “The security not only includes the hardware, but also the process behind counting the votes,” Josie said. “digame ensures that every telecommunication partner and every broadcaster is supervised by an operator.”
During the shows, digame and Puzzel remain in close contact in case any technical problems should arise. One of the biggest challenges is transmitting the vote to digame as soon as voting closes. “I only have three minutes to send a voting report to digame’s platform,” Harald revealed. “I’m the first one to know the Norwegian results,” he laughed.
“It is important to receive the final results from every telecommunication partner as fast as possible and send them into the show so the digame operators on-site at the Eurovision Song Contest venue can prepare the result presentation on time without any delays,” Josie explained. The votes are then converted to points and handed over to the TV hosts who reveal the final tallies.
On behalf of the Puzzel team, we would like to congratulate digame for another job well done and the 2021 winners: Italy!