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NRK uses live stream, BitTorrent for fjord cruise show

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Who would have thought that 135 hours of uninterrupted broadcasting from a cruise ship would make for compelling television? Norway’s public broadcaster NRK is concluding its six-day live broadcast of the Hurtigruten fjord cruise this Wednesday, and the show has already clocked record ratings, with more than half of the country tuning in over the past weekend.

Check out a trailer for the show below:

NRK is also streaming the entire trip live online, and the live stream has gotten some significant attention from outside of the country. Forty-six percent of the stream’s audience is from outside of Norway, according to NRK. The live stream is accompanied by a map widget that shows the position of the ship at any given time, complete with a number of overlays, as well as a live chat widget and Google Earth (s goog) integration.

But NRK doesn’t stop there. The broadcaster is also making a lot of the recorded material available as 1080p HD BitTorrent downloads, which are licensed under a liberal Creative Commons license. Downloaders will be able to remix the material and even use it for commercial purposes, as long as the resulting works are published under the same license and give credit to NRK.

This isn’t the first time NRK has experimented with long-form live broadcasts, online streaming and torrent downloads. The broadcaster aired a seven-hour train trip in 2009 and subsequently made much of the material available via BitTorrent. The show was a surprise hit, with a third of Norway’s TV population tuning in, and the torrent downloads led to a number of interesting remixes. But it’s not just about ratings, according to NRK’s Hurtigruten website:

“Programmes like this aren’t economically feasible for a commercial channel; to a large amount of the public it probably seems completely useless, but to some of our viewers it can have a very high value, be something they wouldn’t get in any other way, and in twenty or two hundred years, it will be a strange document of life at the edge of civilisation from a different time.”