In a TV scene voted to entertainment, where the attention of the public is held with interactivity – social media comments, vote and much more – there are some, less known, exceptions. Almost 10 years ago Norway invented a new format, the slow TV: a sort of marathon of hours that broadcasts live a very common portion of life.
We can consider as an illustrious ancestor of the slow TV the project by Andy Warhol, who in the mid of the Sixties directed the feature film Sleep, five hours of shooting of his friend John Giorno sleeping. Unbelievably, Brigitte Bardot wasn’t convinced to participate to this experiment.
Maybe with less artistic ambitions, the Norwegian network NRK, on November 27th 2009, replied with seven hours of the train ride from Bergen to Oslo. Two years later the bar was raised: the 134 hours travel of the ship from Bergen to Kirkenes, in the north of Scandinavia. The weirdest thing is that the public actually responded well. An average of 176 thousand spectators with peaks of more than a million spectators for the first “event”, 2,5 million views with peaks of 700 thousand spectators for the second one. If we consider that Norway has just a little more than 5 million inhabitants, these are good numbers.
NRK also decided to cover sightseeing tours, salmon fishing, burning wood, needlework, history lessons (at least something spoken!). Slow TV is up to date, though. The interactions with its social media have been massive, the debate on twitter while the ship was reaching Kirkenes, in the middle of the Arctic Sea, was among the ten national trend topics.
Satisfaction came even from abroad, with streaming connections from Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom, France, even the United States, where entertainment has other rhythms. The Norwegian embassy in Seoul tried to export the idea in South Korea, putting cameras in the underground of the city. The public appreciated, defining the occurrence as the most creative expedient of public relations of the last years.
Also the BBC proposed trips by boat and bus to its audience, between 2015 and 2016, followed by the Belgian VRT during the Tour of Flanders and by tram rides in Hong Kong. The Vatican TV Center uses to film St. Peter’s square live, but only when it doesn’t have any other transmission.
According to the Canadian journalist Richard Gizbert, of Al Jazeera English, the success of Slow TV lies in it’s particular way to tell a story, but its boredom is out of discussion.
Sometimes life itself is boring, that’s why we look for an excuse to escape through the entertainment, without a Slow TV remind us that.