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Change of TV last 20 years

Basically what has changed for the better or worse in TV Forum history 2001-2021

This site closed in March 2021 and is now a read-only archive
I have never started a thread on this site and thought with it closing soon may as well start now. Basically what have you enjoyed with the change in TV over the last 20 years from technological development such as Digital TV, Freeview, Freesat, HD Broadcasts, Netflix, Amazon etc. and what you do not enjoy in 2021 or even programmes you miss, anything is accepted here.
Neil Jones Founding member
Well realistically most changes are for the better, we have HD for a start, streaming and whatever else.

Digital TV (particularly Freeview) can be a horrible pixelated mess on occasion since the trend has been quantity over quality picture wise as bit rates are reduced to fit more channels in. It speaks volumes actually when Local TV (in my case Made in Birmingham) gets a higher bit rate than most of the other SD services on the platform.

On the other side of the coin... ident quality has fallen through the floor recently. It was only 20 years ago we had presentation like this:

Unfortunately a lot of it since is... meh. In fairness it would have taken a lot to top that set so maybe we peaked by 2002.
itsrobert Founding member
The main positive developments for me would be the introduction of HD, PVRs and the availability of so much TV on DVD.

Personally, I absolutely hate streaming. I think it's the worst thing to come about since social media. I can live with the catch-up type services (e.g. BBC iPlayer) as I see that as essentially a replacement for VHS/PVRs etc. But I particularly object to having to pay a subscription to multiple streaming platforms in order to access content that I don't actually own and may lose at any time. That whole side of streaming is purely profiteering by the media producers. I much prefer (and continue to engage with) DVDs because I pay for them once and they are mine to watch as many times as I want for as long as I can obtain a DVD player.

The other backwards step for me has been digital multi-channel television. Setting aside the picture quality issues Neil mentions, I think there are far too many channels with too many hours to fill and therefore funding is spread more thinly and the quality of the programmes suffer. I sometimes look down the Sky TV guide in despair because it's full of repeats or absolute pap.

I'm also not a fan of the way news presentation has changed over the years. There are too many gimmicks, too many 'explainers' with graphics and digital effects to supposedly make the news easier to understand and too many presenters and correspondents who faff about waving their arms and talking to the viewers like they are a child. I much preferred the news when it was just delivered straight down the barrel. No inane vox-pops or contributors or long-winded analysis of "what this means for you" etc. It was delivered in the sense of "this happened and these are the consequences".
The rise of catchup and streaming has meant the overnights no longer are the measure of success for broadcasters especially the BBC. The Drowning on Channel 5 for example did an overnight of 2.8m then did 5.1m once 7 day consolidation was added in and that increased to just over 6m in 28 day consolidation.
London Lite Founding member
Streaming has transformed how viewers consume television. No longer are viewers stuck with regimented schedules and can choose to watch the majority of programmes when they feel like it.

Never has impartial news been at risk than in the last twenty years, Fox News showed that there's a market for echo chamber output which led to spin-off networks such as Newsmax and OANN and soon GB News along with disinformation on social media.

Presentation wise, while I understand why news bulletins are more uniform these days, sharing graphics and even set design, I miss the days of regional news bulletins being distinctive with their own sets, themes and graphics.

We now live in a era where viewers have instant choice, so for those programme makers who can cut above the habit of people watching classic shows on Netflix to watch a linear tv show is even more special than ever.
The main positive developments for me would be the introduction of HD, PVRs and the availability of so much TV on DVD

Very much this. I never really got on with VHS (and DVD recorders). The linear nature of it annoyed me, in particular the fact that you couldn't record and play stuff at the same time. My father ended up with four VCRs in his living room to partially get around this problem. Satellite TV made it worse.

I bought Tivo the day it went on sale (despite not actually having the required £400) and never looked back. The VCR started dust-collecting duties the same day, made worse when Sky+ came along the following year.

This of course broke the cycle of watching linear TV and therefore channel loyalty was gone for good. If someone had told me back then that I effectively wouldn't watch any linear TV at all twenty years later (YouTube gets more of my time now) I'd have laughed at them.
Last edited by Coronavision on 13 March 2021 2:14am
itsrobert and London Lite gave kudos
Mateus Honrado
The interactive red button is not as popular as it once was since nowadays, it's now relegated to just the BBC and I miss the good old days where the red button didn't just give you news and sports updates but also bonus content like games and such.
johnnyboy Founding member
I like streaming but, being 47 and growing up in the pre-streaming era, I have an attachment to physical objects like vinyls, CDs, optical media and so on. (If anyone has seen the rather wonderful Techmoan channel on YouTube, I'm a bit like him except I can't repair things).

So much so, after selling my DVD collection 10+ years ago, I have recently invested in a 75" 4K 3D TV and I scower Facebook for people getting rid of their Blu Ray disc connections. I picked up 240 Blu Rays from a seller for £100 - bargain. I got Terminator 3D for £3 and that is my planned viewing for tomorrow night.

It is truly amazing to have iPlayer, All4, Prime Video, and more. There is such an abundance of content beyond my imagination, so much that the 10 year old johnnyboy would think that these developments (and many others like the internet and smartphones) were the stuff of science fiction.

But as Neo put it in the unfairly maligned Matrix Reloaded, "choice. The problem is choice."
I must say, as someone who had loads of physical media, we moved house last year, and I got rid of it all. I realised I never really watch anything twice, and I 'migrated' all of our CD collection into streaming playlists. (Better not ever get divorced I guess!)

I've still got my family 8mm cine flims from 1960 to 1980 (which totals less than an hour of footage!) on a VHS tape though (but no VHS machine 🤦‍♂️)

If you'd said to me 20 years ago that I'd be watching HD (and UHD which was still something in a lab back then) down the phone line I'd have said you were mad.
DE88 and London Lite gave kudos
Neil Jones Founding member
I think there is a place for streaming and there's a place for physical media. Converting a DVD collection to a collection of files one can "stream" from a local source is one thing, but streaming from Amazon/Netflix/Disney+ is another. "local" streaming I don't mind quite so much - having an entire DVD collection that can be shrunk to a network box and can hide in a corner somewhere was quite appealing to me which is why I did that.

I do intend at some point to get rid of the physical media once I'm happy my digital copies are all happy (I intend to do ISO dumps though before I dispose of them - I did it once and Kodi I run on a Pi was happy with it but I had to replace the drive in the computer shortly afterwards and I can't remember what software I used for ISO dumps of commercial disks!) Hard drive storage gets cheaper and cheaper for more and more storage. Back in 2005 it was a luxury to have a 250Gb hard drive, you'd have been lumbered with 160Gb at most, though more likely an 80 or possibly a 120.
Hmmm. I don’t agree with the comparison between streaming and physical media like DVDs. I’ve never thought of it like that. I compare streaming to linear television. When BBC One show a Pixar film, I don’t know ‘oh no, I don’t own a copy’ – I watch it (or not!) and know that I’ve just seen it the once. Similar to going to the cinema I guess. And if I want a physical copy I’d buy a DVD or download a file (iTunes or similar). Perhaps it’s my younger age, but I think it’s comparing apples with oranges.
Inspector Sands
Yes the problem is that you can't rely on streaming media, if you've got a physical disc or a file it's always there to watch/listen. That's not so with stuff you have to stream, their content won't always be there available to you, it's at their whim or due to changes of rights ownership.

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