Spain debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1961, finishing 9th. Since 1999, Spain is one of the "Big Five" (along with France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy) and therefore automatically allowed to participate in the final because they are the five biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union.
Spain has competed in the contest continuously since the country's debut in 1961, having already appeared in 52 consecutive contests. The only country with a longer run of uninterrupted Eurovision appearances is the United Kingdom, ever-present since 1959.
Spain was represented in the 50th anniversary special of Eurovision Congratulations by their 1973 entrants Mocedades, singing the song "Eres tú". The song had made it into the top 14 for the special after being selected in an online vote by the voting public across Europe.
Between 1977 and 1999, Spain's entries were selected internally by TVE. Before that, internal selections and national contests, like Pasaporte a Dublín (Passport to Dublin) in 1971, were alternated. From 2000, Spain has used various selection formats with different results. In 2000 and 2001, TVE organised a national preselection show called Eurocanción (Eurosong), where the Spanish representative was selected for the contest. From 2002 to 2004, the reality show Operación Triunfo (the Spanish version of Star Academy) was used to select the entry, a format that renewed the Spanish audience's interest in the contest and brought three top 10 results in a row, until TVE decided not to host any further editions of the show. In 2005, the national final Eurovisión 2005: Elige nuestra canción (Eurovision 2005: Choose Our Song) was organised, where the audience chose their favourite song among a pre-selection made by TVE of unknown artists submitted to them by record labels. The result in the Eurovision final was not good and for 2006, the selection was made internally for the first time since 1999, with a similar result. In 2007, Spain's entry was decided through the Misión Eurovisión 2007 show, with a disappointing result once again.
From 2008 to 2010, the Internet was the key element of the competitions used by TVE to select the Spanish entry. In 2008, the social networking websiteMySpace was involved in the national final Salvemos Eurovisión (Let's Save Eurovision). A website was created to make it possible for anyone to upload a song and proceed to a televised final if chosen by online voters or an expert jury. The result improved a little, but not much; nevertheless the interest of the Spanish audience was revived again. For 2009, MySpace was still involved in the selection process Eurovisión 2009: El retorno (Eurovision 2009: The Return), although some changes were introduced in the format. The result was the worst in the 2000s (decade): 24th place. In 2010, a similar format, Eurovisión: Destino Oslo, selected the Spanish entry, with the best result since 2004 (15th).
In 2011, Internet voting was scrapped from the new selection method Destino Eurovisión. After a further disappointing result (23rd), for 2012, TVE decided to approach an established act, Pastora Soler, and organise a national final to select her song. A top ten result was achieved for the first time since 2004. The same procedure was repeated in 2013, with El Sueño de Morfeo as the established act, which turned out one of the most disappointing results (25th out of 26 entries) in the country's Eurovision history; some critics, however, blamed a less-than-stellar performance of an otherwise solid song.
Since 1999, four particular countries have automatically qualified for the Eurovision final, regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous Contests. They earned this special status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU (without which the production of the Eurovision Song Contest would not be possible). These countries are the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain. Due to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four". Italy returned to the contest in 2011, thus becoming part of a "Big Five".
Only three times in the contest's history has a non-winning entry been allowed to perform again, and in two of these instances, the entries in question were Spanish representatives (the other one being the Italian entry in 1958, "Nel blu dipinto di blu" by Domenico Modugno). The first time this happened to a Spanish representative was in the 1990 contest in Zagreb, when Azúcar Moreno opened the contest with the song "Bandido." The orchestra and the recorded playback began the song out of sync, which caused the singers to miss their cue. The singers left the stage after a few seconds, and no explanation was given at the time. After a few uneasy moments, the music began correctly and the song was performed in full. Azúcar Moreno and "Bandido" went on to place fifth in the final vote tally, though the juries at the time actually awarded their points after watching the dress rehearsal performances, so the restart did not affect Spain's overall result either positively or negatively.
Twenty years later, at the 2010 contest in Oslo, Spain was drawn to perform second in the running order, and singer Daniel Diges's performance of "Algo pequeñito" was disturbed by notorious pitch invader Jimmy Jump. However, Diges performed the song in full, despite the invader's intrusion and subsequent removal from the stage by security personnel, receiving warm applause for continuing from the spectators at the Telenor Arena. After the exhibition of Serbia, co-presenter Nadia Hasnaoui announced that, according to the rules, Diges would be given a second chance once all the remaining countries had performed. Nonetheless, the juries ranked the dress-rehearsal performance of "Algo pequeñito" 20th out of 25 with 43 points, whereas the televoting results ranked Spain 12th, with 106 points. The combination of jury and televote results gave Spain a 15th-place.
Since the 1969 Contest TVE commentary was provided by television presenter José Luis Uribarri. With the exceptions of 1971-1973, 1977–1991, 2004–2007 and 2009. Uribarri provided the coverage for the contest on 19 occasions between the 1969 and 2010 Contest and was regarded as "the voice of Eurovision". It was confirmed on 8 February 2011 that Uribarri would not return to commentate on the 2011 Contest and on 2 March 2011 it was announced that television and radio presenter José María Íñigo would fulfill the role as Spanish commentator.