Austria has appeared frequently at the Eurovision Song Contest. The country has won once, in 1966, with the song "Merci Chérie".
In recent years, Austria's entries have tended towards the humorous, in contrast with the dance-pop achieving success. 2003 saw comedian and personality Alf Poier perform "Weil Der Mensch Zählt", a song about farm animals. 2005 saw a performance by folk band Global Kryner singing the Latin-inspired "Y así". This was Austria's first appearance in the semi-final, and the country failed to qualify for the final.
After a three year absence, ORF announced on 28 July 2010 that Austria would return to the contest in 2011, where Nadine Beiler qualified in the semi-finals, gaining 18th place in the final. Austria confirmed that they would be present at the 2012 contest and competed in the 1st semi-final on the 22 May 2012, they came in 18th (last) place with 8 points.
Austria has opted out of participation in several Contests. The first of these was the 1969 Contest, which was staged in Madrid. As Spain was ruled at that time by Francisco Franco, Austria chose to boycott the Contest. Contest historian John Kennedy O'Connor points out, however, that Austria had given Spain two points in the previous event and since Spain only won by one point, the political protest was perhaps disingenuous.
The following year, Austria was again absent. This was due to the unprecedented result in 1969 in which four songs tied for first place, a result which prompted several other countries to opt out as well.
From 1973 to 1975, Austria stayed away as well. The exact reason for this is unclear, however the scoring system in use at one of these Contests - allowing all entrants a guaranteed number of points - may have been a factor.
The country was ineligible to compete in 1998 and 2001, as it had not achieved sufficiently high placings in the five previous years.
Prior to the 2006 contest, Austria announced that they would not enter a performer in protest at their poor results in previous years, arguing that the musical talent of the performers was no longer the determining factor in Contest success. They returned for the 2007 contest in Helsinki, but came second to last in the semi-final. National broadcaster ORF cited the 2007 result, as well as declining interest in the Contest among Austrian viewers, as the reason Austria would not return to the contest in 2008. ORF programme director Wolfgang Lorenz also hinted that Austria may withdraw from the contest indefinitely, stating "ORF has no desire to send more talent out of Austria to a competition where they have no chances...Should the situation change, we'll be happy to take part again".  Despite withdrawing, the final of the 2008 contest was screened on ORF.
However, Edgar Böhm, director of entertainment for ORF, said that the semi-final format "still incorporates a mix of countries who will be politically favoured in the voting process" and "that, unless a clear guideline as to how the semifinals are organised is made by the EBU, Austria will not be taking part in Moscow 2009". ORF decided not to participate in the 2009 contest, but did broadcast the final as in 2008. The EBU announced that they would work harder to bring Austria back to the contest in 2010, along with former participants Monaco and Italy. It was, however, confirmed that Austria would not participate at the 2010 Contest in Oslo. In July 2010, the chairman of ORF, Alexander Wrabetz, stated that Austria would return for the 2011 contest, due to it being held in its neighbour Germany. In 2011, Austria reached the final for the first time since 2004.
XX on the semi-finals denotes auto-qualification. This could be the result of one of the following two reasons; if a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. The other reason being that back in 2004-2007, the top ten countries who were not members of the big four did not have to compete in the semi finals the following year. If, for example, Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the countries who placed 11th and 12th would advance to the following year's grand final along with the rest of the top ten countries.
XX on the finals denotes an unsuccessful attempt at qualifying to the final.
Between the 1970 Contest and the 1998 Contest every contest was commentated by Austrian radio journalist and actor Ernst Grissemann, with the exception of the 1979 Contest and the 1990 Contest. Grissemann admitted to future German commentator Peter Urban in 1995 that he only stayed for the dress rehearsal and then provided the Austrian commentary live from the ORF studios. After 1998 Grissemann stepped down from the commentary and was replaced by Andi Knoll.