Friday, 26 October 2012

I used to think this was odd..now i'm not so sure.


I think TV might be on the way out. Not so much the medium of television but the actual television set.

When I started to look at blogs I was quite surprised to find there seemed to be a large number of people who didn't own a Television. This seemed..well..weird. Like not owning a phone. Or a microwave. Or a bed.

Modern conveniences are not expensive. Only 30 years ago television was expensive enough that specialist shops rented them out to our parents. Now Tv, like all modern gadgets has a 'spend what you like' price elasticity. A perfectly serviceable flat screen TV/dvd/bluray and media system is available for about 1/2 a weeks pay from the average wage.

So why, I wondered, didn't people have them? I thought it a bit odd. Was it, like a friend of mine, a fierce unwillingness to pay the BBC any money? Or another friend who has only laptops and just watches DVDs and downloads, not actual live TV?  And I think even 5 years ago that would have been a bit..erm..strange. 
In 2012 there were almost 25 million TV licences sold, almost exactly the number of houses in the UK, raising some £3.8bn for the BBC alone just to make entertainment for us to watch on TV. So if 99.9% of people have a TV, then not having one must be abnormal, right? These odd people making jam by candlelight in their wicker homes instead of watching quality entertainment must be eco loons weeping over a squashed daisy or survivalists stacking guns and taking steroids or religious oddballs searching out the Word.

I have been monitoring my own recent TV use and its dismal. I'm struggling to watch programs I actually like. TV seems to have become old hat. I now watch less than 10 hours a week. I listen to far more radio than Tv.  At least twice as much, maybe 3 times as much. Mostly because its easy to combine with other activities. I listen to music as much as I watch TV. In fact I pay video games more than I watch TV. I certainly use the internet far far more than TV use.

And that is the root of the TVs demise. There are other things to do. And they are now easy to do. Read a book direct on download. Multiplayer mayhem {wars of the roses- a current fav} All night shopping. News. current affairs. Gossip. Politics. Youtube. Facebook. Twitter. And general mooching around.

I am the absolubte focus for TV execs. I have young children that keep me inside in the evenings. My commute is short. I go to bed very late. I have smart TV/iplayer. I have an expensive PVR recorder that can record any possible combination of movies and shows without any hassle.  Yet...
TV doesn't attract me to it much anymore. 

Downton Abbey is the ONLY program that is a must see for Mrs Q and I. One hour a week out of a possible 168 is unmissable. Mrs Q might add Strictly, and I try and watch Match of the Day,but that's still pretty  poor. Poor enough that I could quite easily now dump my expensive TV and media centre and just use the kids portable DVD player and buy that one must have boxset  a year.

Which is what Mrs Q's best friend does. No TV, just a laptop. She won't let her young kids watch TV at all {bit weird} and he's doing an art degree {unusual for a forklift driver,} which consumes all his time. And they also run their own business by night. And they haven't had a TV for 8 years.

And now I get it..They aren't {that} odd. Its just that with modern  pick and mix style entertainment choices they don't need the TV. Its not their go to device. The laptop is.
 Miss Quango {age 9} could watch the iplayer CbbC on the big TV. She doesn't. She watches it on her small screen ipad.

 {I say hers, Its mine. Not that I can ever find it. Its in one of the juniors bedrooms or schoolbags or under their bed. And when I do find it there's 1% battery left as it plays out the last of a cartoon about a musical rainbow pony or an advert for Spiderman real action web shooter guns.} 

When Miss Q decides to have her own place in the next decade or so I can now quite easily imagine she wouldn't even consider buying a TV. It will seem as old fashioned as a record player.

40 comments:

purplepangolin said...

I was thinking the same thing the other day. There is nothing I make a point of watching any more. I would happily get rid of the television, but my kids wouldn't stand for it.

Electro-Kevin said...

Ditto on TV.

Charlie said...

I've been thinking the same thing for a while now. I have two must-see programmes - Have I Got News For You and The Thick Of It. I don't watch either of them live-to-air though, I use iPlayer (admittedly through my TV rather than on a laptop). Handily, I don't need a TV licence to do that.

What I find weird are people who go on and on about their brand new 52 inch plasma with surround sound and built-in teasmaid that they've just blown ten grand on.

Blue Eyes said...

I agree about there being little on "live" TV. I have a TV but mostly it's used for watching DVDs rented from Lovefilm (even that is old hat now). I hate watching TV on the computer but I think that's because I feel unnatural sitting so close to it.

In my fantasy lottery-winning millionaire's house I have a home cinema in the basement but no TV in the living room.

I think most of what you say is to do with our on demand expectations. We expect what we want to be available NOW, not at 9pm, not tomorrow at 8.30 and repeated on Sunday.

I set Sky+ to record the whole series if I see a trailer for something I fancy. I rarely watch it when it's actually on.

I wish I could choose not to pay for the BBC, I would happily go without it.

Anonymous said...

"Miss Quango {age 9} could watch the iplayer CbbC on the big TV"

Have you ever watched BBC kids tv? It's poisionous, I'd stop Miss Q watching BBC kids tv at all.

roym said...

surely you all watch question time every week on TV no?! what about free to air sports? there is still some F1, live footy on ITV, wimbledon, six nations.
Of course the olympics were on too,the tv was on for every minute of that. but that was a one off i guess

with a young child we find ourselves watching less and less regular live programming now. there have been a couple of decent dramas on this year on both main channels, though we rely on catch up more and more.

@BE we also use lovefilm, i know they want us to use streaming but is the quality any good. surely nothing can match a high def disc?

hovis said...

I am a non TV owner and dont miss it one jot - mostof the proramming is utter crap and anything I do want to watch I will view via computer / projector set up either via dvd or download.

The added bonus is I dont pay a licence fee to the vile BBC.

PS: I hear from friends that if you were the type of wicked person, who uses a download site of dubious sources, you can see most major US TV series before they are aired in the UK by either terrestrial or cable.

Elby the Beserk said...

I've spent long periods of my life with no TV. When our kids were young, much of the time we had no TV. I don't like putting small kids in front of screens. Lil & I got rid of our TV I guess about five years ago, as we found we really did not watch it at all. I can grab anything I really want to see off the net, can watch any football match I want, and pay not a penny to the BBC. Indeed, I have formally revoked in writing their common law right to come onto our land, so they can't even ask to enter the house to check whether or not we have a TV. There's no way I will pay a penny to the BBC as it stands.

Charlie - the iPlayer requires you have a license if you watch anything as it happens on TV, so to speak. Watched later, it's fine. Not that I give a flying duck about such distinctions...

Elby the Beserk said...

hovis said...

Indeed ... the new Homeland is going at a ripping pace ¦-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of your comments but don't think you are the majority of the TV show demographic. I'm thinking X-factor, soaps etc and don't think the majority would consider watching these shows via an alternative medium.

Blue Eyes said...

@roym, I don't know what their download service is like because I prefer DVDs on the old TV screen to watching on the laptop. I can't imagine the streaming service is as good as a Blu-ray because the bandwidth would be beyond most ADSL connections.

Licence fee question: is there any way to set Sky up so that you don't have to pay the licence fee? My telly is analogue so it can't receive anything except through my Sky box.

Jan said...

You'll be lucky if Miss Q will be able to afford to move out in 10 years (better prepare for the long haul)....

...but I feel moved to stand up for TV and the Beeb. I watch quite a lot so it's good value for me. I watch evenings only and a smidgeon of Breakfast TV. BBC is usually a lot better than the other options except Ch4. I find interesting documentaries eg a recent series about India on BBC2 where I learnt a lot about how to start a business when you have nothing (could be very useful here soon).

I prefer a larger screen than a laptop and how do you read subtitles without a TV screen? Round here the fashion is to have a flat-screen on the wall. I won't go that far and even though I moaned at the time when I was forced to buy a new TV because analogue was on the way out, I'm glad now as the old set was very cumbersome.

As for CBBC, are all the people there on drugs or is it some kind of parallel universe?

Bill Quango MP said...

purplepangolin: I also noticed that my kids 9+4 don't have a get in from school and watch program. Nothing they MUST see at all. My generation at 8/9/10 rushed home to watch Grange Hill. Doctor Who used to stop children's parties. Saturday morning banana splits, Wacky races even ancient laurel and hardy and Munsters and so on, were all consumed. I'd wait all week in excitement for Thunderbirds. Sit through hours of Weekend World because i was too young to know what the time was.
My youngest has no favourite program. But he does expect what he wants to be available all the time, which it often is.

EK: When did you stop loving the big black box?

Charlie. I like both those shows. HIGNFY I seem to watch on iplayer on saturday. The Thick of it I have all recorded and watched none yet. i'm out the loop. QI is another I like to watch live for some reason. And match of the day, if i don't catch it saturday night, i never watch on catch up.

Blue eyes. that 'setting the sky+ must have something to do with it. it used to be, back in the days before Brown was PM, that if you missed a program, you missed it. I the 80's and 90's Saturday night live, the tube, red dwarf. fools and horses and so on. If you missed it you might wait a year to see it again. Same with the movies. And to record programs was unreliable. 7 day programming but it was temperamental, so for we didn't trust it for the main progs.

But what is odd is I will record a whole series, and only sometimes watch it. Evenif i think its good. it now has to be GREAT! to tear me away from other things.

Anon: BBC kids Tv isn't too bad. Sure they are ultra Pc and go out of their way to show some multi-culti utopia. But as programs they are fine. And I think kids shows for pre-teens and teens is way, way better than we ever had. Anyone miss metal mickey? Didn't think so.

ROYM - yep. you'd think with the kids we'd watch more live TV. We can't go out. We don't though.
Lovefilm has passed me by. I largely stopped watching DVDs too.

Hovis: But no TV set? Are you a green-survivalist zealot? Soon your anti big screen policy will become mainstream and you will be seen as a prophet.

Elby. Another no Tv. As I said, 5 years ago I would have thought that very,very odd. Now..not really.even though you are in a minority that is smaller than the total number of transgender people in the UK. You can probably get a minorities grant.

Anon: I think you are completely correct. there are many people who love their Tv and watch all those shows. And soaps and reality and drama makes up about 90% of evening TV output.So MOST households will still have a Tv and view it as essential. i just have a feeling that's changing.

And this christmas the tablet is the present of choice. even more than last year. In fact Kurio {kids ipad} is expected to be in the top 5 selling presents for 2012. Despite costing almost £200.

Demetrius said...

We watch a fair amount of footie, but with the sound off and listening to a concert. By when we have the RTE Lyric FM Concert, then this has to be done from the TV radio channels.

dearieme said...

"instead of watching quality entertainment": you sarcastic brute.

We'll catch up with The Thick of It on iplayer. HIGNFY has been so lame over its last two shows that if this evening's is as bad, it'll be the last I watch.

So it's just Downhill Abbey, MotD, the eurosoccer on ITV, Inspector Montalbano and the odd Uni Challenge. I expect we'll watch Sherlock and Lewis when they return. We hardly ever watch the news; I hardly ever listen to the radio.

hovis said...

BQ: Are you a Green survialist Zealot? I aspire ...

Seriously though I was less clear I have a laptop, also a large monitor which in effect I use as a desktop but also projection screen which can make movies seem like old style cinema if we need a popcorn family experience. So not anti big screen per se just anti TV.

Of course I can always go to the cinema if I need a really BIG screen.

At risk of sounding self absorbed: I dont fetishise the TV as an object anymore. I distinctly remember the sway it held over me when growing up, as you described. Now I find them almost a malign presence in the room if left on the the corner droning on with X factor / Jeremey Kyle / Made in Chelsea etc.

Budgie said...

We have been TV free for more than 30 years. But we have had computers for 20 years.

Practically, it was a bit awkward for General Studies, but it sure stopped arguments about what to watch.

We did not want to rot the children's brains whilst they were growing since the BBC's world view gets insidiously and relentlessly rammed in our faces, including children's before they learn to discriminate.

Nor did we want to pay money to the BBC to further their aims of being an odiously smug branch of the extreme statist Guardian.

Zebedee said...

When I started work 150 years ago, I always got home in the evening just in time to watch the Magic Roundabout, one of the best children's prog ever made in my view - even for adults. Along of course with Tom and Jerry.

Booiiing. Time for bed..

Timbo614 said...

My wife has a TV I have a licence fee ;( She watches the usual stuff: soaps, some talent shows and detective series if they are on and quasi medical documentaries like Ugly Bodies.

I Hardly watch it. I used to watch QT every week but now I get the short version here :)
I'll watch the F1 if it's on the BBC, but often fall asleep on about lap 10 and wake up near the end - perfick!

We don't have sky any more.

I have a Times on-line subscription, I know, I know Murdoch etc :( and also read the Telegraph and Guardian on-line for news and reporting contrast! As for "Game shows" I have an on-line poker account - that soon wastes an hour(and usually some money!) Then there are blogs I can spend hours reading blogs and the comments - don't ask me why I have forgotten most of it the next day! That's why I give them up now and again and get other stuff done!

Dick the Prick said...

May I strongly and most vehemently nominate Man vs Food as the show that TVs were invented for?

Reading between the lines and blatantly skewing arguments I think it's not TV that's the problem but the shite that it shows. I happily on a Sunday morning watch a couple of episodes of Lovejoy and bemoan that Scrapheap Challenge has ended, i'll while away any given Saturday afternoon watching a crappy war film or anything with Humphrey Bogart in, i'll trun on, tune in and get high to the Professionals or the Sweeney.

The problem is the shows are pap, drivel, sub par, idiotic, forumalaic, banal, cheap and vulgar, base and curiously popular. TV commissioners always go for safe, reliable, focus group, tried & tested arse waffle and spend the budget on God alone knows what.

I put it to you that TV is ace but it's being starved of decent food and sustained on Big Macs and fries. Mind you, in saying that, cinema seems largely shite too. Can't remember the last decent flick I saw at the bijou, probably Saving Private Ryan.

Anonymous said...

My TV habits have changed, but that's mainly due to the sheer amount of crap on TV. Pink Floyd had it spot on.

I do use Netflix a lot, either through a tablet or pushed to the TV, as I can access US content.

Louie, Breaking Bad, Archer... There's quite a list that, when compared to UK output, is so far ahead as to be laughable.

I don't see TV dying as such, I see us consuming it very differently - the day of the static programme has gone, new episode on at 9? No longer a worry if you miss, you can start watching it from the beginning at quarter-past.

The effects of this ought to be interesting, as it'll make new TV even more difficult to be made and monetized as people will watch the comfort of the repeats of their choice.

andrew said...

We now live in a post scarcity economy as far as entertainment is concerned
Since mobiles became ubiquitous we also seem to have lost the habit of having to be at a particular place at a particular time
Perhaps we are reverting to a pre industrial state

Most TV is crap but then so are most books, many films, modern art, amateur dramatics and many other things

Hopefully the youth of today will reach a better understanding of the relative merits and real value of various forms of entertainment

I think it is not that TV is rubbish but that people of my - our transitional generation expect too much from it

James Higham said...

When I started to look at blogs I was quite surprised to find there seemed to be a large number of people who didn't own a Television. This seemed..well..weird. Like not owning a phone. Or a microwave. Or a bed.

Bill, have you been in my home of late? I have none of those things. I do technically have a phone but it's not plugged in.

Anonymous said...

"the iPlayer requires you have a license if you watch anything as it happens on TV, so to speak. Watched later, it's fine. Not that I give a flying duck about such distinctions..."

This is what the BBC says, but it's never been tested in court ....

Electro-Kevin said...

BQ - When did I stop loving the big black box ?

After her dad took umbrage and said I should stick to my own kind.

Steve Hayes said...

We have a TV, but the one who watches it most is my wife because she's a sports fan. I join her sometimes for the semi-finals, and more often for the finals, but not always even then.

I lost what little interest I had when I got a modem for my computer 25 years ago, and it became interactive. I could talk to people and they could talk back.

What I loved were BBS echo conferences, which, even more than blogging, were many to many conversations, with people all over the world. It's degenerated since then. Facebook is far too commercial, and conversations tend to be disjointed and trivial.

But I did enjoy "Foyle's War" on TV.

Anonymous said...

I only use my car 10 hours a week. The missus only uses it about 5 hours a week.

I'm thinking of getting rid of it, I use it so little.

Steven_L said...

When I started to look at blogs I was quite surprised to find there seemed to be a large number of people who didn't own a Television. This seemed..well..weird

I've been hanging around blogs for anout 6 years, hardly watch any TV and am probably a bit 'weird'.

Can happily report than when I get away from the PC and go out, to work or to socialise, everyone still watches the various 'trash' on TV.

Bill Quango MP said...

Demetrius: You watch the footie to classical music? How do you cope without Lawro telling you hat's going on?

Dearime : The radio is so high because its at work.
Just easier than the TV. Nightime radio is probably less than the TV.

Hovis. Growing my parents had two TVs! We were the envy of the Joneses. TV was always, always on. Its the realisation that I often don't turn it on and no one minds that made me think it might have lost its hold.

Jan: I would say i watch C4 the most. Then E4. Then BBC1. Then ITV/dave/ and all the rest about the same. BBC4 almost never now they haven't got Madmen.
I too think BBC kids TV is alright. Its very much better than it was. One of the office gang remembers watching the test card until watch with mother came on. TV was a real treat.

Budgie So..you stopped watching TV 30 years ago. Well..look..its safe to try it again. Terry and June and Robin's Nest are long gone.
You're not some sort of timewarpists? Home made wine and fondue of an evening whilst reading the Giles cartoon?

Zebedee: we miss you like, so man. We made Dougals at school out of loo roll inners and yellow wool.

Timbo : I once negotiated a work contract that had a clause allowing me not to work Sundays when a grand prix was on. I was that fanatical it was a deal breaker. Now I'm like you. 8 laps in..snore..The other thing that does that is West Ham..zzzz..

Dp: Interesting thoughts. - Movies another day i think {but the last mind meltingly good movie I saw was pulp Fiction. Which is fine as its a top 10 all timer.}
There is a lot more crap on Tv but there is a lot more TV. Somethings got to fill the schedules. Who remebers when it used to go off after the late film at about midnight. National Anthem and 'don't forget to unplug your set'

The BBc was nannying us even then.

Anon.9.59pm I think you are correct. The Tv will probably save itself once apple or microsoft start making them . A fold out big TV screen - projection, swipe pad remote networked into all the social media all on screen live comment/news/chat. But it must reinvent.

Andrew. very true. Most books are crap. I feel cheated that even the basic thriller/spy books I used to read were far better written than todays multi-authored formulaic books. I'll excuse Robert Harris though he never seems to know how to end his tales properly. And Sansom is alright.
As for TV. it was the premier form of entertainment. I just think it no longer is.
but neither are newspapers or magazines or the i-spy book of the road. Times change.

JH: I do wonder about you sometimes. No bed? A futon? A hammock? Do you have an oven? Or are you back in the homeland in a log cabin with ice vodka and beets and a dodgy internet connection?

Ek - I set up up...you knock 'em dead.

Steve Hayes. I'd not heard of BBS. Surely though social media is for you? Twitter? Or chat rooms? Or forums?

I have never watched Foyles War. Yet it looks exactly the sort of thing I would like.

Anon 10.21.
I would keep your car seeing as you are using it more than the average per person which is around 6 hours a week.
The comparison here would be if you used to use your car 90 hours a week but now only 10, maybe you'd wonder why that is?

Steven_L: Sure. TV is still king of entertainment. But only the Olympics or royal wedding or world cup can even get close to the figures for Den and Angie's divorce.
{30 million viewers the BBC say}
Media says its because there are so many more channels.
My observation is I'm not watching those other channels either.
And I did, but now I don't . I wonder how many others that applies to? On the balance of comments quite a lot.

if you ever do Yougov surveys they ask a ridiculous question.

" Have you watched at least 5 minutes of any of the following channels in the last month' and then give a list. What's the point of that? 5 minutes a month? I spend 120 minutes a month brushing my teeth. It seems a contrived safety question for TV execs to say 'we still have X share..carry on.'

Steven_L said...

I haven't stooped as low as to do a yougov survey, I must admit!

They need to bring back Roger Cook, That was proper TV!

Anonymous said...

We got rid of our TV 10 years ago and don't miss it. Periodic stays in hotels only confirm we're not missing anything. The curious thing is how the technology improves in an inverse way - definition, colour and sound keep getting better yet the actual product keeps getting worse. I also wonder how it affects politics, at least here in the US. Is it a class thing? All the campaign money spent on TV advertising but only influencing one or two classes - so a disproportionate effect on elections?

Glad I'm getting older .........

Budgie said...

BQ said: "So..you stopped watching TV 30 years ago. Well..look..its safe to try it again."
No, we (chez Budgie) have been TV free for 30 plus years; what I see of it at other people's confirms the decision.

BQ said: "You're not some sort of timewarpists?"
Isn't that comment a bit .... well ..... 1970s? There's lots more available on the internet - you may have heard of it?

The BBC ethos is both odious and insidious, and its being propped up by taxation is the same. Without the BBC we would probably be out of the EU and not suffering the CAGW hogwash. If sacrificing the BBC would get us that, it would be well worth it. In any case if the BBC were sold off as pay-to-view, good programming would not cease and may get better.

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon: I read that it would take 80 hours to watch all the campaign adverts that have been screened in Iowa in the last week back to back.
we never have anything like that. there are very strict regulations on political advertising on TV. And the state broadcaster goes out of its way to pretend to be impartial.
The citizens of Ohio and Iowa should be more like Texas or California and pick a party and stick to it. then they are largely left alone, politically.

Budgie. I too think the BBC should be sold. not because I'm against its politics,{which i am} but because it just isn't needed anymore. All the best shows would still be made and the sale of the BBC would net a huge windfall.
However the nation is not ready for it yet. Even Jimmy Savile won't make the majority of people lose trust in Aunty.

BTW the selling off of the BBC would almost certainly result in higher prices for TV. the licence fee, like the NHS, whatever you may think, ARE VALUE FOR MONEY.

That does not make either particularly efficient or well run.
but they are cheap, as compared to the equivalents any where else in the world.

Electro-Kevin said...

BQ - Teamwork.

Budgie said...

BQ said: "Even Jimmy Savile won't make the majority of people lose trust in Aunty."

Pity. There's me thinking 'Jim'll fix this'.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the problem is the medium or the format. I've been downloading (pirating) TV shows since 2000 or so when you used to download 450MB VCDs for a 40 minute show from Usenet or IRC fservers.

Probably until 2005 or 2006 I had a show to watch every day of the week. I even used to stay up until 2am to download and watch the latest Stargate or Farscape as soon as possible.

So I haven't watched TV in the traditional sense for 10+ years but I did regularly still watch TV shows. But the last 3 or so years I barely even watch shows anymore. It's 40 minutes of sitting doing nothing staring at a screen and I just don't have the patience for that anymore. Not to mention the commitment of watching it every week which you can at least reduce by saving up episodes to watch many at once.

I wonder if this is why American TV seasons have gotten shorter and most seem to be 7-13 episodes a year now. No-one can be bothered with the filler episodes anymore.

But saying all this, watching episodes of Twilight Zone or Buffy on Netflix on your iPhone until you fall asleep is pretty nice (p.s. it's easy to access the US content on Netflix UK if you're willing to pay an extra $5/month).


Glad to see others here mentioning that books are also generally terrible. I like scifi but most books, even award winning ones, are as dumb as the shows on the SyFy channel.

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon 1:13

You're on catch up now.
You are however making great points.
I could not commit to a 40 season epic. No way.

the last sci-fi book i read was lost fleet. Rav reviews. Critics favourite. Already 4-5 books in the series.

It was awful. Beyond awful. It was like Demolition Man if you took that tongue in cheek movie seriously.
I can't recall ever reading such a lousy, unlikely, wafer thin characters, contrived and silly story.
Yet this is a bestseller. A top bestseller.

50 shades of grey for the space cadets. Fine as long as you don't stop to think about it in the slightest.

Scrobs... said...

The best entertainment at 'The Turrets', is listening to Mrs Scrob's outrage when Dad's Army repeats are delayed an hour to make way for some gormless prat show with unheard of celebs squawking about very little.

'The News' really does need to get better doesn't it...

MarkyMark said...

I chucked away the telly two years ago after progressively watching less and less over the years. I don't miss it at all.

It wasn't just that tv was mostly crap as they say but that it had become increasingly PC. So watching TV often made me annoyed and angry. Getting rid of the TV solved that problem.

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