‘The death of TV’ as viewers move online

The way we were: TVs did not become common until the 1960s.

Last week the BBC revealed that their average TV viewers are now in their 60s. Young people are watching Netflix instead. Are we witnessing the death of the old “telly”? And should we care?

What’s happening

For over 50 years, families gathered in living rooms to watch television together — young and old, girls and boys. But now people are abandoning this joint activity to watch TV on YouTube or Netflix by themselves. And last week, the average age of BBC One viewers rose to over 60 for the first time.

Find out more

The trend has been developing for a while. In 2013, the number of homes with a television set fell for the first time. In 2016, a survey found that the streaming website Netflix is more popular with young people in Britain than BBC or ITV. In fact, only around a quarter of 15 to 16-year-olds regularly watch TV live.

When the television first became popular, some people worried that it would be bad for families, as they could watch it without really talking to each other. They called it the “idiot box”.

But at least they were together, say some. In the last few years, Netflix has expanded all around the world. It has millions of subscribers. And it encourages people to watch TV alone, in their own time.

Should we be sad to see old telly die?

Some say…

Technophiles are excited by the change. Viewers now have the power to watch what they want, when they want, where they want. The large number of shows to choose from has made TV producers work even harder to stand out from the crowd, meaning shows are getting better all the time. The convenience and choice are wonderful.

Others think…

Luddites are worried. Gathering around the TV encouraged families to spend time together. Fixed TV schedules gave structure to our lives. With limited choice, there were fewer awful programmes. People tried watching programmes they might not have chosen, so they were more likely to enjoy something new and unexpected, broadening their interests.

You Decide

  1. Does it matter that families are watching less TV together?


  1. In groups, come up with an idea for a new TV show. Choose characters and a setting and pitch it to the class.

Some People Say...

“Life would be better if TV had never been invented.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

A streaming service which allows you to watch TV shows and films online.
Television was first introduced to the UK in 1936, but it did not become popular until the 1950s and 60s.
Netflix is now available in almost 200 countries.
Netflix does not say how many subscribers it has, but it gained 7m in three months of 2016 alone.
People who like new technology.
People who fear new technology, afraid of loosing their jobs.


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