Eurovision, the kitsch song extravaganza, may be coming to America
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Eurovision, the kitsch song extravaganza, may be coming to America

European Broadcasting Union hopes to have the first American Song Contest on air in 2021

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Israel's Netta Barzilai, the winner of last year's Eurovision contest, performs during the opening ceremony of the first semi-final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 14, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Israel's Netta Barzilai, the winner of last year's Eurovision contest, performs during the opening ceremony of the first semi-final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 14, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Eurovision, the beloved corny song contest that unites Europe — and some other countries — and which is currently taking over Tel Aviv, is coming to America. Maybe.

As Tel Aviv shifts into high gear with the arrival of Madonna for her performance in the Saturday night Eurovision final, the European Broadcasting Union, which produces the annual show, signed an exclusive option with international production company Brain Academy to develop the song contest for the American market.

The EBU announced Wednesday that its goal is to air the first American Song Contest in 2021.

The Eurovision Song contest is a “unique must-see event” in over 40 competing countries and with a global audience of nearly 200 million viewers, said Eurovision’s executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand.

Jon Ola Sand, executive producer of Eurovision 2019 (Courtesy Jon Ola Sand)

“It’s time for Eurovision to go Stateside to reach even more viewers,” added Sand.

This year’s Eurovision has 41 delegations, whittled down to 26 for the final event on Saturday night.

With 50 states, the US has the right kind of reach for a Eurovision-styled song contest. But can the US market handle the kitsch, the quintessential air of amateur live performances that is the very essence of Eurovision?

Sand is fairly sure it can work.

“For over six decades the Eurovision Song Contest, powered by public service media, has brought audiences together with its values of diversity, universality and inclusivity,” said Sand.

The team behind The American Song Contest project includes several European TV producers, as well as the Brain Academy, a part of Nordic Entertainment Group that will develop, manage and co-ordinate the project for the US market in cooperation with the EBU.

“The timing is perfect. Outside of sports, the Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest TV show on Earth, it unites a continent and everybody gets to vote,” said Peter Settman, CEO and creative director of Brain Academy. “We can’t wait to introduce this wonderful competition to the biggest TV market in the world.”

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