‘Slow TV’ to gain more global viewers

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Netflix, the world’s largest TV streaming service, claims it “loves” the “slow TV” that was pioneered by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), so much so that customers in English-speaking countries will soon be able to watch Norwegian fireplaces burn, Norwegians themselves knit and lots of Norwegian scenery pass by the windows of trains and decks of ships.

Viewers were captivated by the constant coverage of the Hurtigruten ship "MS Nord-Norge" as it made its way north along the scenic Norwegian coast. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Norwegians viewers were captivated by the constant coverage of the Hurtigruten ship MS Nord-Norge as it made its way north along the scenic Norwegian coast in June 2011. Now viewers all over the world will soon be able to follow the voyage, too. PHOTO: NRKscreen grab/newsinenglish.no

A Netflix spokesman called Norwegian slow-TV “an original concept that we love,” telling newspaper Aftenposten that it wanted to share it with many more viewers. As of Friday August 5, the lengthy shows will be available to millions of Netflix customers around the world, including NRK’s first slow-TV program that followed the entire journey over the mountains of the train running between Bergen and Oslo (Bergensbanen minute by minute) back in 2009.

Several of the shows have already been bought and aired abroad, both in the US and UK, and been featured as part of in-flight entertainment on some airlines. Now they’ll get a greatly expanded audience.

NRK officials are highly pleased, with one slow-TV director saying Netflix’ interest proved that an unusual program aimed at a niche audience wasn’t so unusual after all.

Lise-May Spissøy, who was NRK’s project leader on both the knitting and burning fireplace shows, said the tempo of the programs has proven “very satisfying to very many. So it’s incredibly great that the rest of the world can now follow them, too.”

Among the shows to be made available on Netflix is the wildly popular five-day coastal journey of a Hurtigruten ship in June 2011, which kept many Norwegians glued to their TVs around the clock. Not only did the show portray stunning scenery in unusually gorgeous weather, it also tied the country together in a unique manner, as residents of small communities along the coast of Northern Norway waved banners and flags with messages to friends and relatives in the south.

Other programs to be made available include journeys by the popular mountain tourist train Flåmsbanen, historic vessels in the Telemark Canal, the Nordlandsbanen train between Trondheim and Bodø and, most recently, the historic Skibladner paddle-wheeler on Lake Mjøsa this summer.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund