2014 | 04 | 03

Slow TV - Succesful TV-Trend from Norway

Modern TV entertainment shows need fast editing and action? The surprise hit from Norway, Slow TV, shows train journeys, boat cruises, knitting and fishing – for hours and in real-time. Reality-TV in the true sense of the word...With their Slow-TV-programmes the TV channel NRK reaches dreamlike ratings and gets lots of attention abroad. Sweden and the US already applied the new format. Thomas Hellum from the Norwegian state television broadcaster NRK is one of the speakers at MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin. Beforehand he writes about the formation of “Slow TV” here, in our newsblog:


“It´s so wrong it becomes right”

In 2009, Bergensbanen celebrated its centennial anniversary. To mark the event, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) produced a couple of traditional documentaries. We had plenty of archive material, and looked for ways to put it to use. To make a long story short: we recorded the entire train trip between Bergen and Oslo, and used this as a framework to tell the story of the railway.

The result was a journey in real time, broadcast on a Friday evening on NRK2, while Have I got News for You, X Factor etc. was aired on other channels in Norway. The train journey started at 7:55 p.m., and didn’t end until 3:11 a.m. the next morning.

1.2 million Norwegians tuned in to the show. It won a market share of 15 %, in contrast to NRK2’s average market share of 4 %. “Everyone” saw it, and it became a phenomenon in the social media. We called it “minute by minute”, and this journey marked the start of what the world has come to know as “Slow TV”.

Two years later, in june 2011, NRK aired the 134 hours long journey of a coastal ship ­ live and without interruption. 5 1/2 days of live TV became another huge success, and got us a place in the Guinnessbook of records as the longest TV documentary ever.

Slow-TV is now a list of several programs aired on NRK. They are all multi camera productions, produced with high quality. This has to be on TV. If it’s only transmitted online, it’ll never become big enough. TV still remains the medium that gathers the masses, TV is still what symbolizes that this is important ­ and prioritized: you shouldn’t miss this. Despite numerous channels, choice remains restricted on TV. Only TV can “go the distance”.

We have made two varieties of program: Journey-based and Theme-based. On the journey, we’re faithful to the journey. It’s covered from beginning to end. We’re part of it all the way, experience it. People watch because something might happen, even though it probably won’t, ­ but it might...

In the theme-based programs, it’s about digging deeper and deeper into a theme, devoting time to little things, let processes take the time they take in real life. Examples: salmon fishing, National wood fire night, and National knitting night.

These are multi-camera productions ­ we show reality as it unfolds ­ from multiple angles and viewpoints. Slow-TV may be about editing rhythm. We switch between slow, slow and quick editing, but where the editing rhythm is quick, it still feels slow because so little is happening ­ and because what we are doing takes so much time.

Slow-TV is extremely well suited for multitasking. Integration with web and presence on social media lifts the project. Embraced by our audience, we think this is not only for the Norwegians to see, every country has their journeys and cultural themes that makes them a country, and we do believe this could work anywhere. With brave commissioners, people get the chance to slow down ­ and enjoy!