It’s often been said that good things come to those who wait. In New Zealand this year, one of those good things was undoubtedly the slow television movement. The concept was born in Norway back in 2009, with a seven-hour journey from Bergen to Oslo broadcast on the country’s NRK2. Planned to mark the Bergen Line’s 100th anniversary, the show became a surprise success, pulling an average of 176,000 viewers.
This spawned a series of minute-by-minute rail and sea journeys including a coastal cruise filmed live over 134 hours. About half of Norwegians tuned into the Kirkenes cruise at some stage, with almost 700,000 still taking in the view just before midnight on Sunday evening.
NRK branched out into other topics, like knitting and historical lectures, and other broadcasters around the world jumped on board. Australia’s SBS pulled in a peak of 436,000 viewers last year for a three-hour version of the trip from Adelaide to Darwin on The Ghan. This success was followed with a 17-hour version of the same trip and a four-part series called ‘Slow Summer’.
New Zealand’s first foray into this format was also a series of four journeys, with each show running for three hours, starting in Auckland and eventually making its way to Milford Sound. ‘Go South’ aired on Prime TV for the first time on 19 January, with viewers also given the chance to buckle up for the whole 12 hours in one epic sofa-based journey.
Brands have also tapped into this with Ikea’s ‘Irresistible Pointless TruView Ads’ convincing people to spend minutes watching somebody washing dishes. Camera maker Leica released a 45-minute video of a technician cleaning a lens and KFC got 700,000 people watching cats on a four-hour Facebook Live session.
So, what’s going on? The one-word answer is escapism. We’re bombarded with information from all sides as soon as we wake up – the 24-hour news cycle, social media, corporate email – and people are looking for a break. Slow TV fits the bill as do slow cooking and other hobbies that take a long time to achieve anything. Welcome to The New Slow, where the journey is very much part of the experience.