Life without TV

Rob J Glover discusses the ups and downs of life without his TV set.

Rob's old TV Set
Rob’s old TV set that has long since gone to the Recycling Centre in the Sky.

Almost five years ago I moved house and decided to leave an old friend behind. Someone who I grew up with, have laughed and cried with, someone who has educated me, thrilled me, frightened me and entertained me. My Television. It’s not really ‘a someone’ it’s a thing, a blinking box of metal, glass and plastic. But this thing has probably consumed more of my life that most other things.

I was spending less time watching TV and finding fewer things that I wanted to watch. I was working in Digital and Social Media and using more and more video online, so I made the bold decision to leave the TV behind. That was almost five years ago, so how have I found life without TV?

The Good…

The best thing about not having a TV is being completely in control of what I watch and when I watch it. It really is liberating, particularly if watching a series and you want to watch multiple episodes one after the other or one each night of the week. No waiting until the network decides when you are aloud to see it. Of course you don’t get to see these series first as they will nearly always come out on Broadcast TV first but I can live with that.

What do I watch? I subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime and use the TV catch-up services like the BBC’s iPlayer. I also consume various content from YouTube, Vimeo and a myriad of online educational resources.

The Bad…

It hasn’t been all plain sailing, I have intensely disliked the way that TV Licensing continually treat me as guilty unless proven innocent. Their over-zealous attitude is a disgrace, I could write an entire article on my dislike of their tactics and the whole principle of a TV license, but I won’t. All I will say is that I quite legally don’t have the need for a license that is fully accepted by TV Licensing.

This does bring up the issue that organisations like the BBC really are going to have to rethink how they are funded. Their current focus is to try and maintain the status quo but the simple fact that TV ownership of the under 30’s is falling means that the TV license will not be fit for purpose in the future.

I would fully admit that if I were a fan of live sports then I would have found life without TV much more difficult. I’m not a live sports fan so I haven’t had the dilemma of trying to watch it. But in all honesty even if you do have a TV you are often held to ransom over how you watch live sports between the competing services.

I also wish that there was more British produced content available online, the current landscape is dominated by American content. Does that mean the quality is not as good? Not at all, actually the reverse, it seems that the online channels have broken the stranglehold that advertisers once had and have allowed companies like Netflix and Amazon to produce some incredible award-winning shows.

The Future…

I’m very upbeat about the future of my content consumption without a TV set. I have never felt more in control of what I watch and when and where I watch it. There are going to be challenges for the industry especially for the incumbent media giants like the BBC but like just about every industry they will have to adapt to the digital revolution sweeping across our lives.

Leaving TV behind is not going to be for everybody. I fully accept I’m still in a minority but I can see lots of change on the horizon, Broadcast TV will change and also Social Media will change, Facebook TV anybody! We have yet to see truly interactive TV. Most of the new up and coming Social Networks like Snapchat are video based just watch this space develop.

The only real problem I have with a life without TV is, since I don’t have a fire place, what do I point the sofa and chairs at?!

This article appeared in Digital Exeter’s regular column in Exeter Life Magazine March 2016 edition (Flash Required)


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