How to Watch the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 Finals as Thousands Protest Israel’s Participation

The Eurovision Song Contest Finals are Saturday night in Europe, which is Saturday afternoon here in the United States, and we’ve got all the details on when and how to watch it from home. The contest has faced controversy before, but this may be the most contentious in its history as thousands outside the arena protest the Israel-Hamas war and the loss of life in Gaza as Israel pursues Hamas terrorists.

What is the Eurovision Song Contest?

That’s a big question, but it’s essentially a contest where representatives of European nations (along with a handful of others) each submit a representative to battle it out in an international pop music competition. Each nation’s entrant is often chosen through a local contest in that country — think of it as a bit like “American Idol,” but with all original songs.

The most notable past winner is likely Abba, though a number of the victors have had crossover success around the world. The competition began in the 1950s and has been held each year since. You can find out more about the competition and its history in this story explaining it all from TheWrap’s Jeremy Fuster.

To help take us through this year’s contest, we brought in the hosts of the “Eurovangelists” podcast, comedy writers and performers Jeremy Bent, Oscar Montoya and Dimitry Pompée. The show features relatively new fan Jeremy, longtime fan and expert Dimitry and the passionate Oscar discussing and disagreeing about Eurovision. “What gave me a lot of confidence in the idea [of the podcast] is that Oscar and I have seen everything, but there are times when we do not get along,” Pompée said. “Because we can’t agree on what a good song is — because he’s wrong.”

What time are the Eurovision 2024 finals at? What time can I watch the Eurovision finals in the U.S.?

After two rounds of semifinals earlier this week, the nations who’ve made it through compete Saturday, May 11 at 9 p.m. Central European Time. That’s 3 p.m. Eastern, 12 p.m. Pacific here in the States.

Where is it streaming?

You can watch the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 finals on Peacock, its current home after airing in the past on Bravo. You can also watch the semifinals from earlier this week, archived on the NBCUniversal streaming service.

In many nations outside of the U.S., you can stream the finals on YouTube, but the service is geoblocked in countries with exclusive streaming contracts — including Australia, Greece, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

“Eurovangelists” cohost Jeremy Bent told us how he first became a Eurovision fan, with cohost Dimitry inviting him over to watch the finals. “I was like, I guess so. How long is that? And he’s like, four hours long,” Bent said, laughing. “There were so many points of failure in this relationship. The fact that we didn’t hit any of them was a miracle.”

You can find more details on how to watch Eurovision around the world from the Eurovision subreddit here.

How can I vote in Eurovision?

You can vote via the Eurovision app or online at the official European Song Contest voting site, While voting used to be restricted to just residents of participating nations, the contest has in recent years opened up to allowing votes from the rest of the world. “That’s a relatively new development that came about last year,” Pompée explained.

However, due to the complex process that includes votes from a jury panel, as well as residents of the participating countries submitting their votes, the votes of non-participating countries are pooled as a “Rest of the World” vote. These votes are treated as equal to that of one of the participating nations.

“It’s very exciting,” Pompée added. “I was waiting for it for years, and it finally happened. And I don’t want to put too much weight on it, but it’s very similar to the first time I voted in a presidential election. I was 18 years old, like oh my God, yes. Voting in Eurovision — it really meant a lot to me.”

You can find out more about the voting process here.

What’s the big controversy around Israel, the song it submitted, and contestant Eden Golan?

Israel’s entry in the contest has been controversial this year as the nation’s war with Hamas terrorists has continued in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on the nation. Many have taken issue with Israel for the way it has pursued its war with attacks in Gaza, which caused many civilian deaths, though a dispute about the official numbers killed has remained.

The song submitted by Israel was initially titled “October Rain,” inspired by the pain suffered by Israeli citizens from the surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7. The Eurovangelists hosts spoke with us ahead of growing demonstrations in Malmö outside the contest, but we did speak with them about the controversy over Israel’s participation in the contest.

“There’s a rule in Eurovision of, your song cannot be too political,” Bent said. “And even the title alone, you should sort of already be like, well, this is maybe not appropriate for Eurovision. And so originally, Israel said, ‘Well, we won’t change anything.’ And the EBU said, ‘Great, your song’s not in the competition.’ And then Israel said, ‘OK, well, maybe we’ll change some stuff.'”

The song was rewritten to be more metaphorical, retitled “Hurricane.”

“‘Hurricane’ is more about a relationship,” Bent said. “And the EBU looked at that song and they said, this is still a no based on lyrics. And they changed the lyrics one more time. And then that was accepted.”

That song’s origins were a big part of this year’s controversy. “We don’t know why Eurovision wouldn’t just say this is a no — like, you can’t continually re-edit your propaganda song to be appropriate for this competition — but they did,” Bent said. “But now the song is fairly generic lyrically. I guess there’s not really anything to object to, except that it started as a song that I think is maybe too political for Eurovision.”

“We deeply feel that both Hamas and Benjamin Netanyahu have no interest in trying to mitigate civilian casualties,” Pompée shared. “They both should be cast aside in favor of leaders who actually want to achieve real lasting peace and full political rights for every single person who lives in that territory. That being said, there’s one party that’s in Eurovision and there’s one that isn’t.”

Some called for Israel to be banned from the competition entirely, as Russia has been during its ongoing war with Ukraine. This has led to thousands coming out to protest throughout the week against Golan, Israel and the competition itself.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about how much the Israeli government meddled with the Independent Public Broadcaster so that they could have a song. So they could go to Eurovision and say, ‘Hey, we’re still part of this, we’re still a fine nation.’ And that’s the part that we especially can’t stand, the idea of a, let’s just go ahead and say, an authoritarian government that many people in Israel actually oppose for any number of things, including what they’re doing in Gaza, including Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to seize control of the judicial system. This is not a government with the people’s interest in mind. And when they try to use your vision to get its authoritarian message out or to shine up its image, that’s where I have a lot of issues with it.”

“It’s also worth mentioning that Israel has sent a number of songs in the past that have called for peace and specifically for a two-state solution — usually in the guise of a metaphor, as actually calling for one would be too political,” Bent said. “They have a long history. And so we were kind of waiting to see, well, what’s their song going to be? And then their song came out, and we’re like, ‘OK, yeah, it’s not one of those.'”

“If you’re going to take the opportunity to push for equal political rights and realization of those rights for everyone in the region, we can have a good time here — but it’s not what they sent, and we’re not happy about it,” Pompée said.

Where can I preview all the songs in the competition?

You can see clips from all 37 of the finalists here:

There are 26 nations competing in the finals. You can also listen to all of the finalists in the Spotify playlist below:

What are the politics of Eurovision?

A man on stage in front of many people, with a graphic behind reading "UNITED BY MUSIC."

As noted, the competition has traditionally sought to avoid politics.

“In an ideal world, [politics are] not involved at all,” Pompée explained. “And typically, the actual political figures really don’t play a bigger part of Eurovision at all. It’s a difficult one, because the European Broadcasting Union, who runs Eurovision, tries to set up a politically neutral zone. But if you’re going to be an artist, there’s going to be a point in which your work is political, like everything is political.”

“And I think that there’s a way to engage with politics in a way that doesn’t have to be aggressive,” Pompée added. “I think the best Eurovision songs do that.”

Where is Eurovision being held?

This year’s contest is being held in Malmö, Sweden, as 2023 winner Sweden plays host to this year’s competition. Despite the tradition of the previous year’s winner hosting the subsequent year’s competition, last year’s contest was held in England, even though they haven’t won since 1997. Ukraine won in 2022, but was unable to host due to the nation being at war with Russia, so it was instead held in Liverpool, England. That war also led to Russia no longer being allowed to compete in Eurovision.

“The last few years, Ukraine especially has sent songs that you could certainly view as political, but are largely about the resilience of the Ukrainian people,” Bent shared. “Zelinsky was like, it’ll be in Kyiv — next year, you’ll see Eurovision here, and everyone was sort of like, ‘Well, that’s a beautiful sentiment. But I think we may need to be a little more realistic.’ … I have to give credit to to the U.K., they did an excellent job of incorporating — they had a Ukrainian host on stage with two English hosts. And they had a bunch of Ukrainian acts perform. I actually thought they handled it very well.”

“They went out of their way to make sure that everyone knew yes, we’re hosting in the U.K., but this is Ukraine show.” Pompée added. “And that’s the kind of politics that is beautiful in Eurovision. It’s politics that uplift people.”

Which countries and artists are participating?

A full list is available here, from Albania’s BESA to the United Kingdom’s Olly Alexander.

The Eurovangelists hosts explained how the competition is broadly popular in countries where it competes, though the attitude varies from nation to nation. “There are people in Ukraine who go, this is a great outlet for us to get our art and our message out to the world. They hold it with a lot of reverence,” Pompée said. “There are people in the U.K. who are like, well, this thing sucks, except when we do well — then it’s good. Germany: We lose, it’s bad. It was stupid. We never cared. Except when it looked like we’re going to do well. But there are Germans who are huge fans.”

“France is sort of over it,” Bent added. “But every year is like, ‘Well, obviously our song is very good. It will be up to the larger European community, whether their taste is good enough to appreciate it.'”

“Spain is like the Philadelphia of Eurovision — all the Eagles fans you can think of,” Pompée continued. “Imagine if they liked European pop music, and that’s the Spanish fan base. They’re terrifying. I do like the Spanish song this year — it’s a great song. And one of the best they’ve sent, ever.”

Why is Israel competing in Eurovision as a non-European country?

Israel has competed annually in Eurovision since the country joined the European Broadcasting Union in 1973. The contest’s official rules allow competitors from the entire European Broadcasting Area to join — an area that “extends from the Atlantic to the meridian 40 deg E” and “is bounded on the south by the 30th parallel.” As a result, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, the Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia could also enter.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Australia, none of which are members of the E.U., are also part of the competition.

Despite being geographically located in the Middle East and bordering Jordan and Egypt, most of Israel’s competitive teams go up against European adversaries. This is in large part due to Israel’s dismal relationships with the its Middle Eastern neighbors.

What makes Eurovision different from an American song contest?

One major difference is the competition’s less commercial nature — though the contest’s presenting sponsor this year is Israeli beauty company Morrocanoil, adding to this year’s controversy.

“The thing that kept it going in Europe is also a factor and what has prevented it going more of a thing here until relatively recently, in that it’s a publicly funded event — there’s really very little chance to like make money off of it,” Pompée said. “And you know, over here, an event has to have a commercial side for it to make any sense. And over there, this is for the celebration of music, the celebration of culture. And that seems to play without a problem. There doesn’t have to be financial incentive for people to pay attention, there doesn’t need to be a grand prize, or there doesn’t need to be a major record deal.”

“Dimitry would shed a single, stony tear if, all of a sudden, it was the American Eurovision there — the Tostino’s American Eurovision. I think it would drive him slightly insane,” Bent said. “That might do it,” Pompée agreed. “Honestly, that might be what finally turns me into the Joker-masked maniac that I’ve been dancing on the edge of becoming.”

Who’s hosting Eurovision this year?

While the nation of Sweden is the host country, the 2024 TV presenters are Swedish-American actress Malin Åkerman (“Watchmen”), as well as Swedish comedian and presenter Petra Mede.

Where can I watch old Eurovision contests?

While they are more widely available in Eurovision host countries, it’s difficult to access the more recent contests in the United States. “Especially through through the early 2000s, it was almost impossible for Americans to watch it,” Bent said.

However, avid fans have compiled watch links for every Eurovision contest dating back to 1956, with some years even available on YouTube here in the States. You can find out more on this Eurovision subreddit page.

The most recent show available in the U.S. from the official Eurovision YouTube channel is 2015’s competition, which you can watch here:

Also available is this 2020 special, which aired in place of an official competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

A popular pandemic hobby for some was going back and watching old Eurovision contests — among those was Eurovangelist cohost Oscar Montoya. ” “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, and I’m also like batting around this Eurovision podcast with a friend of mine,'” Bent explained. “And [Oscar] goes, ‘Oh, well, you’re not allowed to make that without me.'”

“Your early Eurovision is almost indistinguishable from what was considered American pop at the time. It was just in other languages. And there’s a lot of standards,” Bent detailed. “And then in the ’70s, I think it actually was pretty similar to American pop music. And now it is like, wow, like, if I cherry-picked 10 entries from this year, you’d be like, ‘all of these people are competing to win the same competition?'”

If you want to learn more about Eurovision, check out the links above or go listen to the Eurovangelists podcast from the Maximum Fun podcast network.

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