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Does Anyone Still Watch TV in Black-And-White?

The BBC began broadcasting in color in July 1967, starting with BBC Two's coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Color television has long since become the norm in the United Kingdom, but even now, 51 years after the historic Wimbledon broadcast, there are 7,161 British households that still watch telly in black-and-white. That's according to TV Licensing, the authority that collects an annual fee from any household that watches live or catch-up television. A black-and-white TV license costs only £50.50 ($65 USD), compared to £150.50 ($195 USD) for a color license, so cost may be one reason why some people are still watching programs on monochromatic sets. Others may have them as collector's items or simply enjoy the nostalgia of the black-and-white viewing experience.

However, black-and-white TV is exclusive to traditional television broadcasts, and all current streaming services are in color. People who watch TV without an antenna or cable don’t watch it in black and white unless they modify the settings on their screen. Furthermore, no TV screen that only shows black-and-white would be modern enough for streaming technology. Since contemporary streaming services don’t offer a black-and-white option, black-and-white television will probably continue to decline as old-fashioned cable phases it out, and streaming services become the dominant form of watching TV.

Do not attempt to adjust the picture:

  • There were 212,000 black-and-white licenses issued in 2000, but that number has steadily dropped, falling below 10,000 in 2015.
  • The BBC was the first European broadcaster to have regular programming in color. Broadcasters in West Germany, the Netherlands, and France also began color programming by the end of 1967.
  • In the United States, the first national broadcast in color was NBC's coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1954. However, most American programming remained in black-and-white until the mid-1960s. As late as 1964, only 3.1% of American households had a color TV set.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
Discussion Comments
By anon1000669 — On Nov 14, 2018

Highly unlikely. Probably the license people don't know about the color TVs so they still pay for a black and white one!

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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