Revealed: how much RTE spent on Ireland’s Eurovision entry

Ryan O’Shaughnessy from Ireland celebrates after securing a place in the Eurovision Song Contest final (Armando Franca/AP)
Ryan O’Shaughnessy from Ireland celebrates after securing a place in the Eurovision Song Contest final (Armando Franca/AP)

Ireland made a triumphant return to Eurovision this year, with Ryan O’Shaughnessy earning a spot for Ireland in the final for the first time in seven years thanks to his performance of the ballad Together.

Our final placing was a very respectable 16th having garnered 136 points from both the jury and public votes – our best performance in seven years.

RTE has revealed that they spent more than €300,000 on sending Ryan and the delegation members to Portugal from April 29, the day before official Eurovision rehearsals began, to May 13, the day after the final.

A total of 18 people travelled as part of the team including Ryan plus five backing vocalists/dancers, Head of Delegation (Executive Producer), Broadcast Co-ordinator, Head of Press and Publicity, commentator, stylist, Ryan’s manager, vocal coach, two songwriters, photographer, choreographer and sound engineer.

Eurostar: Ryan celebrates in Lison. Photo: Andres PovedaEurostar: Ryan celebrates in Lison. Photo: Andres Poveda

Eurostar: Ryan celebrates in Lison. Photo: Andres Poveda

Some of the delegation were there for the entire duration, but others including commentator Marty Whelan, Head of Press, photographer and Broadcast Co-ordinator arrived later as their roles were required.

The exact minimum spend was approximately €304,088.  This was down from €331,482 (a saving of €27,394) which was spent sending the delegation of 16 to Ukraine in 2017. 

However, RTE points out that “as the RTÉ annual accounts for 2018 are not yet been finalised, that these costs do not include charges for RTÉ labour and support costs, as these will only be finalised once the annual accounts have been completed.”

A large chunk of the spend was a fee of €83,861 which RTE was required to pay to the European Broadcasting Union for ‘active participation in the contest’.

Ryan O’Shaughnessy performs at the contest in LisbonRyan O’Shaughnessy performs at the contest in Lisbon

Ryan O’Shaughnessy performs at the contest in Lisbon

“The fee for active participation includes RTÉ’s contribution to the substantial costs incurred by the host broadcaster in staging the contest and the fee for entry,” said RTE in a statement.

A figure of €220,227 was spent on costs including artist and designer fees, staging including full dress rehearsals, graphics production, props, pyrotechnics, costumes, choreography, postcard filming, photography, attendance at pre-Eurovision promotional events and song recording and production among other elements.

Following a Freedom of Information request from The Irish Sun, a further breakdown of some of those costs were revealed to be as follows: Production costs (design, set pieces, lighting props and pyrotechnics) of €27,190; accommodation cost €42,355 (the delegation must stay in officially designated hotels); economy flights came to €8,483 while airport parking and taxis cost €663.  A ‘representation’ bill was €1,594 and food and subsistence cost €13,632.  RTE did not reveal the fees paid to the artists, who are independent contractors, as they deem this information ‘commercially sensitive’.

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The overall cost of Eurovision is two-fold, according to RTE.  One aspect is to “produce an act to represent Ireland in the biggest entertainment show in the world, to a standard that we can be proud of in front of an average audience of 189 million viewers.”

The other aspect is to “provide over 7.5 hours of live entertainment to an Irish audience who watch the competition in huge numbers.”  Broken down, the cost per hour was €44,197, “which by TV production standards represents very good value for money.”

Read more: Comment: Eurovision comes roaring back in Ireland as Ryan O’Shaughnessy proves real winner

An average of 416,000 viewers tuned in over the three nights while the cumulative reach across the three nights was 1.89 million.

Michael Kealy, Head of Delegation, said “We are very proud of the Irish performance this year, months of work went into planning our Eurovision act, bringing together the various audio and visual elements, from choreography to lighting design and music production.

“We are always very conscious of getting the best value for the money we spend, while also endeavouring to produce a world class act which will represent Ireland on the Eurovision stage to an audience of nearly 200 million people.

“Together placed 16th in the final which is the best result since Jedward came in eighth place in Dussledorf with “Lipstick”  in 2011.”

Read more: ‘Spreading our message is a victory in itself’ – Ryan O’Shaughnessy proud of Ireland’s Eurovision performance

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