“We tried so hard.” SBS drops Eurovision Asia plans.

Exclusive: After big plans announced in 2016, SBS concedes a regional Eurovision has proven too difficult.

EXCLUSIVE: SBS has abandoned plans for Eurovision Asia after 5 years of development with producers Blink TV.

SBS first announced an Asia-Pacific Eurovision in 2016, licensed by the European Broadcasting Union, to be held in 2017 in Australia with 20 countries competing.

But the project stalled for several years with the event’s official social media pausing all updates back in 2017.

SBS Commissioning Editor and Australian Head of Delegation, Josh Martin tells TV Tonight, “I think it’s fair to say we’ve rescinded our rights. We spent a number of years trying to figure out how to do it and then the global pandemic came along.

“It’s very different to the way Eurovision started post-World War Two, as a means of bringing people together. There was a real purpose in establishing it.”

TV Tonight understands pivotal to gaining regional enthusiasm was having China on board but despite producers pursuing discussions in the region it could not be realised.

It’s not the first time the event has struggled to get off the ground.

The EBU previously licensed an Asia Pacific Contest to Asiavision Pte. Ltd., which announced an event for Macau in 2009, then Mumbai in 2010, including with an Australian entry from SBS. Neither of those events were ever realised.

Eurovision Asia is difficult for a number of reasons: timezones, language barriers, all sorts of issues,” Martin continues.

“We tried so hard but that was one that we just could never quite pin down.

“It’s kind of like any TV show. You put a lot of things into development, and not all of them get up. So that was one that we could not, for whatever reason, make work.”

The EBU has long harboured a desire to extend its Eurovision brand globally. After years of rumours, NBC has now confirmed a state v state American Song Contest for 2022.

“The American Song Contest is getting some traction and that’s taken a long time to do as well,” says Martin. “It’s still not there yet but look at the comparison. That’s a country that has a universal language and a love of music formas and it’s stil difficult, but it’s never for lack of trying.”

Blink TV declined to comment.

14 Responses

  1. Such a strange concept to attempt. Asia already has some pretty big music/song contests and awards shows that go unnoticed by networks here as does most programming coming out of our region. Why not try and get in on those by broadcasting them here. Several years ago, former SBS Popasia presenter Jamaica De la Cruz was invited to co-host MNET’s MAMAs in Hong Kong. Why try and reinvent the wheel.

  2. I love that the Yanks are looking at an America-only version. I imagine before it debuts they’ll change the name to World’s Best Song Contest or something similarly humble.

  3. I guess the SBS ignored the politics thinking Eurovision was just a TV entertainment concept, even in Europe the historic rivalry between countries produces some questionable voting trends depending which nation is in or out of favour at the time, you would think nationalistic politics would be a factor during voting in our Asia-Pacific region too.
    The American Song Contest would be a curiosity as numbers of similar shows like The Voice, X Factor do much the same thing.

  4. Superficially, it sounds like a lovely idea. But, when you give it a bit more thought, it looks very much like an attempt by Australia to superimpose a European concept over Asia.

  5. There was the Asia-Pacific Song Contest called “Our Sound” a few years earlier, I think also modelled on the Eurovision concept, but I don’t think anything came from that, either.

    1. Our Sound: Asia Pacific Song Contest was the earlier attempts licenced by EBU for Macau / Mumbai. There was also the unrelated ABU TV Song Festival last staged in 2019 in Japan, with an online event in 2020 in Malaysia.

  6. This actually hasn’t come as a surprise. Australia’s not part of Asia! We’re Oceania, as everyone seems to be forgetting these days! We would have no rights to compete, useless we were invited in you would think…

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