Sietse Bakker: ‘Final of Eurovision could be less long-winded’

The Eurovision Song Contest has played a major role in Sietse Bakkers life for a long time. He has already had various positions within the EBU. He started as Online Manager and made his way up to Event Supervisor. Now that The Netherlands has the opportunity to organise the contest, he has the title of Executive Producer. Sietse sat down with us and we could ask him a few questions.

‘It all started when I tried to impress a girl from another class who was a big fan of the contest’, Sietse told us when we asked where his interest in the Contest came from. ‘I wanted to impress her by making a website reporting on the contest, ESCToday. After I went to the Eurovision Song Contest in Riga for the first time in 2003, I was addicted, and meanwhile our website had become very big. It didn’t work out with the girl, but it was the beginning of my career.’

It was a full circle 

Over the years, Sietse, with his own company in website building, grew within the EBU and even became Event Supervisor. In 2016 he made the decision to stop. ‘The very first Eurovision Song Contest that I saw was in Stockholm, so when it took place in Stockholm again in 2016, it was a full circle-moment for me. It was time to quit that position and get more involved in my own business.’

Proud Dutchman

The Netherlands had quite a few tough years in the past, so when asked how Sietse experienced the victory of Duncan he said the following: ‘AVROTROS has built that nicely from 2013 onwards, with Anouk to Duncan who now won. Of course that makes you proud, but it is also a strange feeling. How is the Netherlands going to do this? So I am glad that we get answers to that question. Me being a part of the team which has the final responsibility is a complete honour, but it’s quite a tough job.’

Informative experience

You would think that after all these years, Sietse knows what he is doing. He thinks differently though: ‘You would think that you have already experienced everything. Nothing could be further from the truth, every day things come to mind that you hadn’t thought of.’ If we ask what he wants to do differently this year, Sietse says: ‘One of the things we said from the start was that we would listen to people from delegations, fans, and the press, in order to gain a better understanding.’ When we asked the question if the shows aren’t taking too long, he said: ‘The semi-finals are relatively short but it’s true that the final takes a long time and could be less long-winded.’

Happy with our hosts

We only just found out who the three lucky ones are, but this did not happen overnight. ‘We have been working since July on who could present it. Everything came to mind: from presenters to singers to actors to influencers. After several meetings, this combination is the best outcome and we are very proud of this trio,’ he said.

More news regarding hotels is coming soon

Attending the contest is something on the bucketlist for every fan. The high prices of the hotels do not make that easy. We asked him if something could be done about it. ‘We had 3.000 rooms blocked in the bidding phase, about which we will soon be publishing more news. Keep in mind that the Netherlands is relatively small and you should also look outside Rotterdam for a stay.’

Succesor of Jon Ola Sand?

Would he aspire to the role of Jon Ola Sand in the future? ‘I have never aspired that job and now I’m focussing entirely on the role that I have. And for the record, I have not yet been called by the EBU.’

The full interview can be seen here with English subtitles.