In 1964, Andy Warhol made a film called Empire, which consisted of one, eight-hour-and-five-minute shot of the Empire State Building. The movie came a year after Warhol’s five-hour, 20-minute film Sleep, which is nothing but a single shot of one of Warhol’s friends sleeping.
Continuing in the Warhol tradition, Norway’s NRK2 TV network on Friday aired a reality show called National Knitting Evening, which consisted of 8 1/2 hours of seven people knitting, in “long, quiet” shots.
But before you start laughing and posting derisive comments about the programmers who came up with the idea, just know that they’re laughing too — all the way to the bank. National Knitting Evening drew a viewership of 1.3 million people, in a country whose entire population barely tops 5 million.
That would be the equivalent of Super Bowl-level ratings in the U.S.
Viewers tuned in for an average of four hours to the broadcast, which ran over its allotted time slot by more than four hours, totalling 13 hours of airtime for the knitting spectacular.
The show was part of a programming phenomenon the Norwegians are calling Slow TV. The knitting broadcast comes after Slow TV’s 2009 debut which was a 7 1/2-hour broadcast of a train ride from Bergen to Oslo. If you want a taste of the Slow TV magic, check out the 10-minute trailer for the program, Bergensbanen, below.
“It was the brightest day when the idea came - no alcohol involved,” said Slow TV’s creator Rune Moklebust in an interview with National Public Radio. “And it [the train show] was broadcast on a Friday night and then something happened. People were sitting there for two hours, you know, and four hours, and some people are watching the whole thing.”
In 2011, Slow TV followed up with Hurtigruten: Minutt For Minutt, a 134-hour broadcast of a cruise ship floating down the Norwegian coastline. Other shows have focused on firewood, which was a 12-hour broadcast and 18-hour coverage of the first day of salmon fishing season.
“It was three or four hours before the first salmon came ashore,” says Moklebust.
No word yet on whether a U.S. franchise of Slow TV will be coming to a major network anytime soon.
SOURCES: Deadline.com (2), National Public Radio, Wikipedia