While we’re living in an age of digital technology, streaming services and high definition, it turns out thousands of people across the United Kingdom are still watching their favourite television shows in black and white.
Official figures released by the UK’s TV Licensing show that 50 years after colour transmissions, more than 7,000 black and white TV Licences are still in use. In the UK, residents are legally required to purchase a TV licence in order to watch or record live TV. This includes watching shows on laptops, tablets or mobile phones.
A standard colour TV Licence costs £150.50 (AU$271, US$196), while a black and white Licence is £50. Although the number of people watching their favourite shows in black and white is decreasing, the official figures show 7,161 people still prefer the old method.
In recent times, smart televisions, tablets and smartphones have made it even easier for people to catch their favourite TV content, although the report shows there’s still demand for nostalgic monochrome TV sets. In London, 1,768 black and white TV Licences were issued, followed by the West Midlands on 431 and Greater Manchester with 390. Still, the figures are not what they used to be.
In the year 2000, 212,000 black and white Licences were issued. In 2003, the number dropped to 93,000 and by 2015, it was below 10,000.
“Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet, so it’s interesting that more than 7,000 households still choose to watch their favourite shows on a black and white telly,” TV Licensing spokesperson Jason Hill said in a statement.
Although it may seem baffling to tech-lovers and digital enthusiasts, there’s been a rise in people turning to technology and things from yesteryear. For many, collecting bits and pieces from when they grew up is a major hobby and a booming business.
“There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs,” London-based television and radio technology historian Jeffrey Borinsky said in a statement. “Who wants all this new-fangled 4K Ultra HD, satellite dishes or a screen that’s bigger than your room when you can have glorious black and white TV!”
Black and white TVs aren’t the only old technology still relevant in modern times. In fact, research published earlier this year by the Recording Industry Association of America found vinyl and record players are back in a big way.
That report found that for the first time since 2011, records and CDs were actually outselling digital downloads of songs and albums. In the United States alone, sales from physical CDs and records sit at around US$1.5 billion (AU$1.95 billion, UK£1.49 billion).
Sales have increased by 10 per cent in the last year, with LPs being pressed again by music label Sony for the first time since 1989. In addition, more vinyl stores are popping up, while many music retailers now stock vinyl of both old and new artists.