The Listening Post

Norway’s Slow TV

A new fad has Norwegians gathering around the TV set to wind down – instead of being wound up.

Norway is a country that gets relatively little media coverage – even the elections this week passed without drama. And that is Norwegian media in a nutshell, not much drama.

A few years back, Norway’s public TV channel, NRK, decided to broadcast live coverage of a 7-hour train ride. Seven hours of simple footage; a train rolling down the tracks.

Norwegians – more than a million of them, according to the ratings – loved it. A new kind of reality TV show was born – and it goes against all the rules of TV engagement.

There is no storyline. No script. No drama. No climax. It is called Slow TV.

For the past two months, Norwegians have been watching a cruise ship’s journey up the coast, foggy days included, and executives at Norway’s national broadcasting service are considering broadcasting a night of knitting, nationwide.

“I think filming a boat is not a great philosophical achievement. But I think depth can be in many things and I think the gift or just sitting back and watching nature come at you and move past your window through your television … It has a relaxing effect,” says Per Arne Kalbakk, the deputy CEO of NRK.

On the surface, it sounds boring, because it is. But something about this TV experiment has gripped Norwegians and while the broadcaster may be at the avantgarde of weird and wonderful TV, they also have a formula that keeps the ratings up while keeping the costs down.

Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro went to Oslo to find out why Norwegians are tuning in to Slow TV.


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

Watch more Listening Post