LOS ANGELES (AP) — America’s trade deficit will rise Saturday, but it’s a good thing: After 60 years, the Eurovision Song Contest finally is being imported for U.S. viewers.
It’s mind-boggling that a contest that gave the world ABBA and Julio Iglesias took so long to get an American home — almost as startling as the glitzy event itself.
“It’s hard to believe, right?” said Chris McCarthy, the Logo general manager who eagerly sought the telecast deal. The show will air live and commercial-free at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday and stream on LogoTV.com and the Logo TV app.
Viewing parties are planned in New York and other major cities, Logo said.
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With the channel’s roots in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender culture, it was a perfect fit for the contest because of shared attitudes, McCarthy said.
“First and foremost, Logo and the LGBT community’s gay sensibility is about pushing the boundaries, being your true self and letting your personality come to life,” he said. “What this show is, above everything, is about people really putting it out there and being their true self.”
The contest’s strong following in the gay community helped Conchita Wurst, a bearded Austrian drag queen, win in 2014.
With an expected audience of about 200 million viewers, mostly in Europe but also China and Australia, the contest clearly has broad appeal with its mix of power ballads, bubblegum pop and over-the-top staging and costumes. (There are detractors, such as Brits who sneer at the excess — and haven’t won since 1997.)
Mans Zelmerlow of Sweden took the crown in 2015, so the country is playing host to the event from its capital, Stockholm. Zelmerlow is co-hosting this year’s show with Petra Mede, a Swedish comedian, and Justin Timberlake is scheduled to perform.
Contestants sing live, accompanied by recorded music tracks, and professional juries and TV voters awarding points separately to each performance.
The contest was launched in 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public service broadcasters in 56 countries, with the lofty goals of creating closer ties between nations and advancing TV technology.
At minimum, Eurovision can take credit as the launching pad to fame for ABBA and Iglesias and for giving Celine Dion and Olivia Newton-John, among others, a career stepping stone.
Logo’s McCarthy, who along with other fans has searched out satellite feeds of past contests in bars or elsewhere, is delighted Logo is its official U.S. host this time around — and, he hopes, for contests to come.
“We’re thrilled we got it,” he said. “It’s a cultural gem that has exploded the last couple years across the world and outside of Europe.”
AP Writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.