The idea for slow TV was born over lunch at NRK Hordaland (in west-Norway) in 2009, the year that Bergensbanen, The Bergen Line, (a train that runs from the capital of Oslo to Bergen, one of the other largest cities in the country) celebrated its 100th anniversary.
– We made a couple of regular documentaries, but had lots of archive material left over, says Rune Møklebust, Head of Programming at NRK Hordaland.
– Then a colleague commented at lunch: “What if we film the whole journey, and then use it all as a frame for telling archive histories from Bergensbanen? If there´s a signal failure, the program will be extended …”
This is how the phenomenon was born, and after “Bergensbanen – minute by minute”, several other titles have followed. The common denominator is that a journey, like that of Hurtigruten, or a theme night, such as “National Knitting Night”, is filmed as a whole and then aired unedited on TV.
TV viewers have embraced the phenomenon to such an extent that the new expression “slow TV” (“sakte-tv”) has become a natural part of our vocabulary. “Slow TV” was even named “new word of the year” by The Language Council of Norway in 2013.
Program by program
2009: Bergensbanen minute by minute – train journey across Southern Norway
Broadcast Friday 29 November at 7:55 p.m. on NRK2. Pre-recorded, 7 hrs 16 min. Approximately 1.2 million Norwegians tuned in to the show. Market share: 15 %.
2010: Flåmsbana minute by minute – scenic tourist route, train journey
Broadcast Sunday 5 September 8:05 p.m. on NRK1. Pre-recorded, 58 min. About 500,000 followed the entire journey, market share 40 %.
2011: Hurtigruten minute by minute – a coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes
Broadcast on NRK2 from Thursday 16 to Wednesday 22 June 2011. Live transmission: 134 hrs, 42 min and 45 sec. 3.2 million tuned in. NRK2 most watched channel during the broadcast. Market share: 36 %.
2012: Salmon river – minute by minute
Broadcast from Thursday 31 May to Friday 1 June.
24 hour live transmission on NRK1/NRK2 from Gaula in South-Trøndelag on the opening day of the salmon fishing season. Kicked off with 40 minute build-up on NRK1, followed by about 18 hours of salmon fishing minute by minute on NRK2, then three hour “ordinary” broadcast on NRK1. Approximately 1.6 million Norwegians tuned in, market share 10 %
2012: Telemarkskanalen minute by minute – channel boat trip
Broadcast on Sunday 26. August 9:50 a.m. Live transmission, 12 hours.1.3 million Norwegians tuned in. Market share: 29 %.
2012: Nordlandsbanen minute by minute – season by season – train journey north of the Arctic Circle
Broadcast 29 December 4:00 p.m. on NRK2. Recorded, 9 hrs 50 min. About 1.2 million tuned in, market share 13 %
2013: National Wood Night
Broadcast from Friday 15 November 8:05 p.m. to Saturday 16 November 8:00 a.m. on NRK2. Live transmission. Approximately 1 mill Norwegian viewers tuned in. Market share: 9 %.
2013: Summer Entertainment Show – coastal cruise with entertainment show, a journey from Oslo to Kirkenes and back
Broadcast from Saturday 22 June to Saturday 10 August. 7 weeks, about 379 hours live production during this time. Most watched season of Open for Summer ever.
2013: National Knitting Night
Broadcast from Friday 1 November 8:05 p.m. to Saturday 2 November 9:20 a.m. on NRK2. Live transmission. 1 million tuned in. Market share: 15 %.
2014: 200 years in 200 minutes - lecture performed by professor Frank Aarebrot
Broadcasted on Friday the 28th of February. Live transmission on NRK2 from 8:05 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. 700.000 tuned in. Market share: 15 %.
2014: 1814 in 24 hours
About 50 of the leading scientists in Norway lectured for 24 hours straight from Rikssalen in Eidsvollbygningen (the hall where the Norwegian Constitution was created). The marathon transmission started at NRK2 at 6 p.m. on Friday May 9 and ended Saturday May 10 at 6 p.m. 699 000 viewers stopped by the program. The market share was 6 percent.
Piip-show started as an Internet initiative where the whole world could follow the activities of birds that visited the small coffee shop that was rigged for the occasion. On May 25 from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., NRK2s viewers could follow the fascinating bird life. 243 000 viewers stopped by NRK2 during the transmission.
2014: The hymnal from cover to cover
The first weekend of Advent, NRK will air an exceptional choir marathon in Norway. All 899 hymns in the new hymnal are to be sung from cover to cover, minute by minute. Choirs from all over the country are invited to join. We can expect 60 hours of live TV from Vår Frue Kirke (church) in Trondheim and other places across the country.
Friday November 28 – Sunday November 30
2015: War in 200 minutes
Lecture performed by professor Frank Aarebrot about the second world war. Broadcasted on Thursday the 9th of April, 75 years after the outbreak of war in Norway. Live transmission on NRK2 from 20:55 p.m. to 00:30 p.m. 238 000 saw the entire programme. Market share: 21,4 %.
2015: Summer Show minute by minute – coastal cruise with entertainment show, a journey from Vadsoe to Oslo
Broadcast from Sunday 21 June to Saturday 15 August. 8 weeks, Minute by minute during daytime, Drama and entertainment in the evening. Again: Most watched season of Summer Show ever.
2016: Salstraumen minute by minute
12 hours and 12 cameras. Watch the beautiful nature and the life in and around the phenonemon Salstraumen. Watch how massive amount of water, 375 cubic meters, presses through the narrow and shallow sound. Live transmission Saturday 7th of May from 12 p.m until midnight.
How we make Saltstraumen minutt for minutt
2017: Reindeer Herding minute by minute
From the 21st of April and until the reindeer herd prepares to swim over Kvaløysundet some 100 kilometers later, a TV team from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) will follow the Herder family and almost 1500 reindeers. Until the afternoon Thursdag 27th of April.
2018: Monsen Minute by minute
Combining the Norwegians love for hiking, the format of slow TV, and Norway’s most loved adventurer Lars Monsen, we get Monsen minute by minute. In 2018, NRK brought viewers along on a four-week long hike across national parks in the country. With specially-built portable production equipment, a crew of around 30 people and a group of volunteers we were able to broadcast live television from Hardangervidda, Jotunheimen, Vesterålen and Indre Troms. From the same locations we also broadcasted “Sommeråpent” in the evening. “Monsen Minutt for minutt”, “På vei til” and “Sommeråpent” was seen by a total of 3 million people, and they watched it for 78 minutes on average.
2020: Svalbard Minute by Minute
The Norwegian public broadcaster, NRK, marks the 100th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty by offering the longest slow TV-broadcast ever: A nine-day Arctic expedition around Spitsbergen, the largest of the Svalbard islands.
Read more: Svalbard Minute by Minute
Great international interest
Slow TV has been getting a lot of attention internationally. Viewers from several Nordic countries have been able to follow Bergensbanen, Flåmsbanen and Nordlandsbanen. They have also been introduced to edited versions of Hurtigruten and Telemarkskanalen.
A one-hour version of Hurtigruten has been shown on American TV.
LA-based indie LMNO Productions has acquired the U.S. remake rights to Norwegian public broadcaster NRK’s Slow TV format, from distributor DRG.
Some articles in foreign medias:
- Al Jazeera - Norway's Slow TV
- The Guardian - Slow TV: the Norwegian movement with universal appeal
- Channel 4 - Slow going: why 'slow TV' is catching on fast
- The New Yorker - Slow TV is here
- Today.com - ‘Slow TV’ is (slowly) coming to the US
- The Telegraph - British Airways launches in-flight 'slow TV', with seven hour film of train journey
- Time - Norway’s ‘Slow TV’ Movement: So Wrong, It’s Right
- BBC - Norway's 'Slow TV' attracts viewers
- The Independent - Slow Television: The latest Nordic trend
- Deutsche Welle - Norway's 'slow TV' - now it's live knitting
- The Week - 4 shows from Norway's crazy, successful slow TV experiment
- The Guardian - Feathers fly in Norwegian wild bird reality-TV show
- Daily Mail - Norwegian TV to broadcast live feed… of birds eating at mock coffee shop