Danish word of the day: Flow-tv

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Flow-tv

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Flow-tv is a term used to describe an increasingly unpopular way of watching television.


What is flow-tv? 

A term composed completely of loan words, “flow” and “TV” or television.

The verb “to flow” is at flyde in Danish, while “flow” as a noun is strøm, which can also mean “current”.

A television is normally called et fjernsyn in Danish, although you might also hear someone call it a tv, adopting the English abbreviation into Danish. Similarly, television as a concept can be either fjernsyn or tv, as in jeg ser slet ikke tv/jeg ser slet ikke fjernsyn (“I never watch television”).

Flow-tv is the term used to describe what is generally referred to in English as linear television, in other words regular programming that must be watched at a set time on a set channel, as opposed to content that can be streamed whenever the viewer chooses.


Why do I need to know flow-tv? 

This appears to be a case of Danish using loan words to make a new word or term that is not the same as the word used in the original language.

Other examples of this include smoking, the Danish word for tuxedo, and drink, which means “cocktail”.

This can extend to whole expressions: fit for fight, meaning to be motivated for a challenge, probably doesn’t mean much to anyone outside of Denmark.

A term related to flow-tv is slow tv, a concept which became popular in Norway in the late 2010s and involved a stream (on linear television) of something that progressed very slowly, like the migration of reindeer or a live broadcast of a train journey.

The genre gradually went out of fashion after the shows got so slow they stopped entirely.

Flow-tv might seem like it belongs to the past as a way of consuming TV shows, but it could yet retain popularity. Next year, Danish broadcaster DR will introduce a mandatory login to watch its streamed content, so if you want to watch without signing up, you’ll have to plump for the regular linear programming.


Flow-tv fungerer stadig godt, når der vises store live begivenheder såsom VM i fodbold eller valgaftenen.

Linear TV still works well for showing major live events like the football World Cup or general election night.


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