European Slow TV Sensation Crawls to America With Live 12-Hour Road Trip

Issue 53 - Learning to Love Slow TV: Turtle

Travel Channel hopes to capitalize on the Norwegian phenomenon on Black Friday.

Move over, Yule Log: You've got some hypnotic holiday competition on the way.

In a clever piece of counterprogramming, the Travel Channel will debut Slow Road Live, a live, serene 12-hour road trip, on one of America's most chaotic, frenetic days of the year, Black Friday. The journey will start at 9:00 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 27, allowing viewers to kick back, relax and follow a caravan on a meandering journey to a yet-to-be-determined location.

"While everyone else is out hustling and bustling to get the latest deals on Black Friday, we’re giving our viewers a chance to unwind with 12 hours of reality in real time" said Ross Babbit, senior vp programming and development at the Travel Channel. “This live programming event will get everyone together to simply enjoy the stunning, beautiful scenery and realize the only big character in this show is the world around us."

The Slow TV phenomenon has mesmerized Europe for some time, but aptly took a while to make its way to the United States. It started in Norway, on broadcaster NRK, back in 2009, when a 7½-hour train journey from Bergen to Olso reeled in 25 percent of the viewing population (1.2 million viewers). That was followed up with a 134-hour cruise ship journey that captivated 70 percent of the population. Other shows have included eight hours of live salmon fishing, eight hours of knitting and 12 hours of burning wood. UK-based DRG sold NRK's format to the Travel Channel.

England will amble toward the movement this spring when BBC Four airs three slowed-down programs.

The Slow Road Live event will also have a social component, allowing viewers to react, share, like, participate and discuss the event in real time with a robust second-screen experience.