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Travel Channel Unveils ‘Slow TV’ Format: A Show That Lasts 12 Hours

Who wants to rush through a 30- or 60-minute long TV program? Travel Channel is gearing up to run one that lasts 12 hours.

The Scripps Networks-owned outlet said it would air “Slow Road Live,” on Friday, November 27, at 9 a.m. ET.  During a live 12-hour road trip — the actual route will be revealed at a future date — viewers will have the chance to sit back and follow a caravan on what the cable network bills as “a serene and captivating journey” presented on the frenetic pre-holiday sales rush known as “Black Friday.”

The format, billed as “Slow TV,” originates in Norway, where 5 million households — representing more than 70% of the population — tuned in to watch a Norwegian Broadcasting Company broadcast of a cruise ship sailing around the country’s coast for five days in 2011. In 2009, the network broadcast a seven-hour train ride along its Bergensbanen. 

The idea has antecedents elsewhere. In the United States, for example, New York TV station WPIX gained some renown for its “Yule Log” marathons, which showed a scene of a roaring fireplace and hearth while Christmas songs played over the course of several hours. The station first broadcast a “Yule Log” in 1966.

Others have also picked up on the theme. Last May, fast-food chain Arby’s released a commercial that was 13 hours in length. The ad, which showed in detail how the roast-beef emporium smoked brisket, played out only on a local MyNetwork affiliate in Duluth, Minn.

At Travel Channel, the idea is to give TV viewers a peaceful alternative during a bustling time of year.  “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,” said Ross Babbit, senior VP of programming and development at the network, in a prepared statement.

Things won’t be completely serene.  Travel Channel will give viewers the chance to discuss the event in real time with mobile devices and social media, the network said.

“Slow Road Live” is produced by LMNO Cable Group for Travel Channel. The executive producer is Eric Schotz for LMNO Cable Group. The executive producer for Travel Channel is Patrick McManamee.

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