Americans are taking advantage of streaming and on-demand-video to indulge in “binge TV,” watching a series’ entire season in a few sittings. Norwegians, though, are watching television in a completely different way. They are watching real-time renditions of train rides and ocean voyages. Or twelve hours of knitting. They are calling it “slow TV,” and it’s coming to America. Do you see the attraction?
Norwegians have reclaimed television as relaxation. They’ll watch unedited footage of a train chugging for hours from Bergen to Oslo or a 5 1/2-day program chronicling the MS Nordnorge’s voyage along the coast. Even “twelve hours of nonstop knitting” is a selling point. There may not be much to rehash around the water cooler, and the clips won’t go viral, but the viewing experience is less harried. Brawls don’t erupt over spoilers.
Maybe it’s time to add attention spans to the list of things Norwegians have that Americans don’t (along with fjords, abundant happiness, gender equality and paid paternity leave). Or maybe not. Can Slow TV exist outside of Scandinavia? Do other cultures have the endurance to find pleasure in the monotony of handicrafts and burning logs?“I don’t think we are particularly stupid or weird in Norway to like this sort of thing,” said Thomas Hellum, a Slow TV pioneer and production manager at Norway’s public broadcaster, NRK. “I think really it could work in other countries.”
Networks in England and the United States are aiming to find out. First up, BBC Four Goes Slow is testing England’s patience this spring. Then the American LMNO Productions has plans to launch Slow TV shows here, although in the midst of signing contracts, the company president isn’t ready to divulge details. (For those in a hurry to check it out, Slow TV is also available on the Pluto TV Web site and app, and the Norwegian shows can be found on YouTube.)