The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), formerly known as the 'Eurovision Grand Prix', is a televised international song competition watched by approximately 180 million television viewers every year. It has been held annually among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union since 1956, making it one of the longest-running TV programs of all time. During the live show, traditionally taking place on a Saturday in May, an artist from each participating country enters the contest to perform one original song. The TV audience, as well as a jury from every country then awards points to the other contestants' songs in order to determine the winner. The winning country customarily hosts the following year's competition.
ESC broadcasts have been consistently popular with television viewers over the years. In 2016, the TV market share of the contest was highest in Sweden, where 84.7 percent of all viewers watching TV at the time of the ESC broadcast chose to follow the international song competition. Viewing figures were also high in Belgium and the Netherlands, both of which were among the leading five countries in terms of market share in 2016. For Spain, a comparison of the popularity of ESC finals over the years shows an all time high in 2002, when 12.76 million Spanish TV viewers watched the final show in Tallinn. In Italy, interest in the contest has been comparatively low, with audience shares often staying below the 10 percent mark in recent years. In 2016, viewing figures rose slightly to an audience share of close to 17 percent.
In terms of victories, Ireland is the reigning Eurovision Song Contest champion with a total of seven wins. When looking at the number of points each country has received over time, however, Ireland is surpassed by the UK and Sweden, which currently ranks first having collected a grand total of 4,128 points. But which country entered the best performing song ever? Up to 2015, the song with the most points of all time was Alexander Rybak's 'Fairytale', performed for Norway in 2009. After the introduction of a different voting system, which premiered in 2016, the title for best performing song is now held by the winner of the 2017 contest, Salvador Sobral from Portugal.
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