Netflix’s Newest Programming Is As Slow As It Gets
Norwegian network NRK is coming to the streaming platform with their successful 'Slow TV'
A Norwegian television series is giving new meaning to the expression “Netflix and chill.” Slow TV, a series of long form programming produced by Norway public broadcasting network NRK, arrived in America via Netflix on August 5, allowing viewers to experience events like knitting marathons and long distance train rides as they unfold in real time.
While the appeal of such programming is up for debate, the ratings are undeniable. More than 1.2 million Norwegian viewers—or 20 percent of Norway’s population—tuned into the broadcast of “Bergensbanen minute by minute—train journey across Southern Norway,” on November 27, 2009, according to an NRK article.
The program follows a train along its seven-hour journey from Bergen to Oslo with interviews and archival clips edited in for variety. During the trip, the train travels through 182 tunnels.
The Bergen to Oslo train ride was the first in NRK’s series, but the origins of the Slow TV concept can be traced back to America in the 1960s.
In 1963 and 1964, avant-garde artist Andy Warhol tested the patience of even the most open-minded patrons of his work with a pair of experimental long-form films. The first, “Sleep,” depicts artist John Giorno sleeping for 320 minutes. The second, “Empire,” consists of a stationary shot of the top floors of the Empire State Building for more than eight hours.
American viewers may be more familiar with the Yule Log, a holiday tradition created by New York City television station WPIX in 1966. WPIX president Fred Thrower conceived the Yule Log—a film loop of a log burning in a fireplace set to Christmas music—as a televised Christmas gift to New York City residents who lived in small residences without fireplaces.
Three of NRK’s Slow TV offerings on Netflix—National Firewood Morning, National Firewood Evening and National Firewood Night—pay homage to the Yule Log by devoting 12 hours of consecutive programming to the felling, chopping, stacking and burning of timber.
Netflix users looking for an extremely relaxed viewing experience can also watch Northern Passage, Northern Railway, Salmon Fishing and The Telemark Canal on the streaming service.