Thousands of people still watch TV in black and white, new stats reveal

Over 7,000 homes in the UK still have a monochrome set

Getty, TL

Despite living in an age of Netflix, smart screens and online viewing, it turns out thousands of people in the UK still watch a black and white TV.


New figures released by TV Licensing reveal 7,161 households watch shows using monochrome sets, despite the BBC broadcasting in colour from 1967.

According to the new statistics, London leads the way with 1,768 black and white licences, followed by West Midlands with 431 and Greater Manchester with 390.

However, as you would expect, the number of households using monochrome sets is rapidly declining. In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV Licences, but this number shrunk to 93,000 in 2003, slumping further to 10,000 in 2015.

“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,” said Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing.

One of the reasons people may watch in black and white (or at least claim to) is that a monochrome licence is much cheaper. In fact, at £50.50 it’s a third of the price of a colour one.

Black and white viewing also appeals to people like television and radio technology historian Jeffrey Borinsky. “There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs,” he said.

“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?”


Answer: literally everyone outside those 7,161 households.

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