Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)’s annual televised Eurovision Song Contest qualifier, called Melodi Grand Prix, failed to drum up as much viewer interest this year. Around 755,000 tuned in for Saturday’s final, down from 975,000 last year.
Ratings were only half of what they were in 2009, when violin-playing Alexander Rybak pulled in more than 1.5 million, a lot in a country of just 5 million people. Rybak also went on to win Eurovision itself, aired live from Moscow that year, and apart from complaints over one of its commentators, viewers handed NRK new records for a show that ranked as a major national event.
NRK changed its format this year and held all three semi-finals in Oslo, instead of traveling and hosting them around the country. The three semi-finals were also held all in the same weekend, with the final last Saturday in the Oslo Spektrum arena. It was the final, which was won by debut singer Carl Espen of Bergen, that took a dive in the ratings.
NRK will broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest itself from Copenhagen on May 6, 8 and 10, with Norway’s representative taking part in the semi-final on Thursday May 8 and, if he makes it into the finals, again on Saturday May 10.