yar-no-tvWe moved house a year ago this week. It was a big old mess, and it took me a few days to move boxes around and find homes for furniture. Eventually, everything was in its place, and I set about putting the TV together and plugging everything… at that point, I realised… there was no TV aerial socket. None. Nothing. Nowhere. In any room.

I spoke to my landlord, and he told me that when they had refurbished the flat, they’d opened a cupboard upstairs and found an old scaffold pole going out through the ceiling and onto the roof, where there were several aerials waving about in the wind. They had removed the scaffold pole and fixed the hole in the roof. The previous occupant had had Virgin Media, which comes through cable – so she’d never used the wobbly aerials any way.

My landlord told me it hadn’t occurred to him, when I told him I needed to have a BT phone line installed, that I wouldn’t then have TV access through my phone line. I don’t think he’s very experienced in having to sort this sort of thing out. He said he would get an aerial installed for me, if it was a problem not to have one. I told him not to worry; I never watched much live TV any way.

And so began my experiment with having no live TV.

I’d already gone several months without watching any live TV; we had Virgin Media at the old flat, and then a You View box; I’d just used the catch-up function to watch the TV shows I wanted to watch. When we moved in here, I bought a Chromecast from Amazon, and used the Chromecast app to stream Netflix and YouTube from my mobile.

I had heard that a You View box wouldn’t work without a TV aerial, but one day I decided to give it a try with an ethernet cable – and it did. Since then I’ve mostly watched TV on my You View box; we have Netflix and I splashed out on a Now TV Sky Movies subscription, since I was no longer paying for a TV licence.

We don’t have any clue what is or is not playing on TV channels any more. The only TV scheduling I pay attention to is Casualty on a Saturday night (a long-standing family tradition, which I now watch on a Sunday night). Other than that, I might occasionally have a browse through iPlayer or ask friends whether anything good has been on TV lately.

S rarely sees any TV ads.

Sometimes if she wants to watch Fireman Sam or Angelina Ballerina – both of which are available on Channel 5’s Milkshake On Demand service – she might catch a glimpse of an advert before or after it. But that’s probably less frequent than once a week. She’s mostly happy with the choice of shows available on Netflix, and on weekends we watch the movies on Now TV. Both Netflix and Now TV have a reasonable turnover of content, so she’s spoilt for choice.

I have worked my way through several TV series on Netflix, binge watching all the great stuff that’s on there. I’ll admit that now, a year on, I’m beginning to scratch about for things to watch. But after a year away from the dross that is TV scheduling, I feel no desire to go back to watching live TV. Watching TV exclusively on demand has made me very picky. I might find a show or documentary that looks like it might be interesting, but if it turns out to be an hour or perhaps 90 minutes long, I will re-evaluate how interesting I think it looks. Do I really want to spend an hour and a half of my life watching that? I don’t watch any soaps or entertainment shows. My only vice is Big Brother, and to be honest I can mostly take or leave that.

If I’m honest, these days I will often tend to watch videos on Periscope or YouTube, or listen to podcasts in the evenings, instead of watching TV. If someone recommends a film or TV show on Netflix or one of the catch-up services I might give it a go, but the bar has been set incredibly high by the recent episodes of This Is England ’90 and I find that 99% of the crap they fill the listings with these days just can’t live up to that!

I think perhaps this is the way TV is going: long gone are the days when a faceless executive in an office somewhere dictated what the entire nation would watch at any given time. First there was the huge growth in available channels (remember the days when there were only 3 to choose from? There are more like 300 now!); now we’ve moved on from any sort of scheduling to a much more “on demand” service. Advertising has also changed. There is of course probably still the fabled surge in electricity as everyone puts the kettle on during the ad break of Corrie, but TV ads don’t have the reach they had before, as more and more of us choose to use catch-up and on demand viewing.

To me it feels like, in the same way that print media used to be broadcast from the chosen few to the masses but now has diversified into much more of a two-way street, so TV has diversified and removed a lot of power from the hands of the schedulers.

What do you think?

Do you utilise on demand services more often these days? Do you still crowd around the TV as a family to watch X Factor on a Saturday night? Would you consider ditching your TV aerial and relying solely on catch-up and on demand services?



Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


thismummylark · 16/10/2015 at 20:42

Wow a whole year!!

I think we watch tv out of habit or even boredom. Theres rarely anything i watch regular. The last thing was dr foster ( check that one out! May not be your cup of tea but it kept me gripped) anything else is something i find on sky catch up if im in the living room.

I watch alot less than i did but i cant imagine watching non at all.

Lauren · 16/10/2015 at 22:54

thats awesome! These days you can get almost anything to live stream through your phone (news, etc) so I could actually see something like this working for me.

Heather Jackson · 17/10/2015 at 15:26

I “cut the cord” six years ago and haven’t looked back. I have Netflix and Shomi (which is like a Canadian version of Hulu), and there’s more than enough to watch on those two streaming services. Plus, a lot of the TV channels have their own online streaming. They don’t keep whole seasons of shows online, usually only the most recent 4 episodes, but if you keep up you can watch recent TV online – and at whatever time of day you want! I definitely think the days of “appointment television” are over; streaming is the way to go!

Kate Holmes · 17/10/2015 at 21:07

I think the telly can really suck your energy and I have experimented with turning it off more and seen some great results in efficiency in other areas of my life which feels more balanced now. I think telly may well die altogether in the not too distant future. The times are changing and folks such as you are part of that

    Vicky Charles · 18/10/2015 at 16:37

    Thanks Kate, I think you make a valid point. There was a time when I used to watch a lot of soaps, from Neighbours and Home & Away to Eastenders and Hollyoaks. One day I decided to just stop watching – and my mood instantly improved!

David T. Allen · 18/10/2015 at 14:22

Netflix is enough for me–the occasional episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Bob’s Burgers is all I need.

Kitkat · 14/11/2015 at 20:07

I cut the cord officially 3 years ago when I moved in to my flat and after a long conversation with a useful man at TV Licensing I was relieved to discover I could watch what I wanted on iplayer services for free… I then had one of those horrid red things through the door as the ‘enforcers’ paid a visit while I was out. Dug out the original letter from TV licensing and no problems since. Casualty, Holby, Poldark, and Indian Summer plus my fill of Amazon Prime stuff.

    Vicky Charles · 16/11/2015 at 20:44

    Ah I can’t get Amazon Prime to play on my TV. We’re in the process of moving internet providers and I’m not sure my YouView box will work with the new supplier so we’re going back to cable TV. I might just check on the YouView box and not plug the “live” TV in though

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