I had a few friends come to stay at the weekend for an early Halloween celebration, and as we sat on the sofa together – feeling a little worse for wear – on Sunday morning, I was told we were just in time for the EastEnders Omnibus. Cheers all around. I was asked if I could put it on.
My answer was simple: no.
Not because I don’t like watching EastEnders, I quite enjoy escaping to Albert Square a few nights a week, but because I don’t have a TV aerial. As my friends starred at me in amazement, I questioned them – why would I?
Before moving into my own home, I lived in my family’s home for 24 years, and a TV aerial was one of the things you took for granted; along with the clean, ironed clothes that used to make it onto your bed, free weekend taxis and home cooked roasts in the middle of the week. It’s only when you move out and realise the cost of ‘real life’ that you start weighing up the things you really need and making the appropriate sacrifices.
When weighing up whether or not to splurge on an aerial, the decision wasn’t even difficult. I asked myself what would I really gain by having one? Yes, okay, live TV… but anything else? I realised that all I really needed was the Internet and a laptop, and who doesn’t have those these days? With the Internet, I am able to watch all my favourite programmes and films and I don’t have to rush home to do it, I can watch them whenever I want to. Also, one of the best things is I don’t just have to watch current programmes, I can go right back – to the 80s if I wanted – and watch the ‘old classics’ such as The Queens Nose, Aquila and The Demon Headmaster.
Don’t get me wrong, I know streaming TV and films online is nothing new, iPlayer has now been up and running for five years and video on demand services like Netflix and LoveFilm, while not free, also make the need for an aerial or satellite dish redundant. In the past, options like iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD, were purely used for catch up. Now consumption models are changing and you can choose to catch up, watch live TV or rent content. Now, with the government investing over £800 million in fibre optic broadband, and more providers rolling out 4G mobile services, the Internet is getting better, faster and stronger, and it’s getting easier and easier to watch what you want to, where you want to and on whatever device, phone, laptop, tablet, you choose.
So, how long will it be until houses aren’t built with aerial points, and people don’t need to worry about where the ugly dish will be put onto the house? With the pace things are moving now, my guess is not too long…