PVR killed the Video Star

Posted March 25, 2013 - Press Releases

The VCR has one foot in the grave and will be gone by 2018

  • VCR used in only one in ten UK households in the past 12 months
  • 13.5 million unwanted VCRs and 660 million VHS tapes are currently gathering dust in spare rooms, cupboards, garages and lofts
  • Young people (aged 18-24) are the MOST likely to still be using a VCR at home

The death of the VCR foretoldThe VCR was a status symbol in the early 1980s, a staple of almost every home by the 1990s and a source of many a family dispute over wiped tapes and recording slots. New research reveals how PVR (Personal Video Recorder) technology is calling time on the VCR with it set to be wiped from the domestic landscape by 2018.

Once the star appliance of the living room, research by Freeview, the UK’s biggest digital television provider, shows that the majority of British households [1] (64%) still own a VCR. But almost half (51%) have put it into storage meaning that  13.5 million units are now gathering dust, forgotten and corroding in cupboards, lofts, garages and sheds across the nation[2] .

The research reveals VCRs were used to record programmes in only one in ten households (11%) over the past year. On average Brits last used their VCR 5 years and 3 months ago – with a quarter of households (23%) abandoning it within the last 3 years. Based on the rate of decline over the last ten year period, the findings predict that, apart from some hardcore hangers-on, the VCR will have all but disappeared from our homes in no more than five years[3] .

The VCR boom through the 1980s and 1990s also led to overflowing shelves of carefully labelled collections of the likes Only Fools and Horses and Dallas – possibly colour coded according to the family member with a ‘DO NOT WIPE’ warning. Formerly heavily guarded, protected and viewed many times over VHS tapes too now sit in storage – with an average of 25 tapes in each and every home across the UK – equivalent to 660 million pre-recorded tapes and 1.98 billion hours of abandoned archive TV[4] .

Those regions most likely to still record via the traditional tape method in the last year are Scots and Londoners (both 15%). Perhaps surprisingly, young people aged 18-24 (15%) are the most likely to have taped a programme in the last year using a VCR than any other age group.

Today 81% of those surveyed said they now record TV programmes on a PVR.  The latest Humax or Pure 1TB Freeview+ HD box can hold up to 500 hours of TV (equivalent to 165 three-hour VHS tapes) and record multiple programmes simultaneously to reduce the likelihood of household conflict over TV programme clashes.

Marking the arrival of PVRs as an everyday life essential, the Office of National Statistics has included them for the first time in its ‘shopping basket’ of 700 household items (used to calculate inflation) from March 2013.

Guy North, Marketing Communications Director at Freeview, said: “Lovers of television grew up with a VCR in the home and these findings show that despite it being obsolete, the majority of us can’t quite bring ourselves to physically part with it.

“The advent of the first domestic PVR in 2002 started the inevitable process, and more recently Freeview+ has helped make digital recording accessible to all. With enough memory to store hundreds of hours of our favourite TV shows in a single box, the PVR has consigned the VCR to the cupboard under the stairs of history.”

Freeview is the UK’s most watched digital television service, currently serving 19.9 million homes (including almost 11.11 million main set homes)[5] .

 Notes :

Research conducted by Populus amongst 2,000 adults (18yrs +) from  8th -10th  March 2013

Freeview is a subscription-free TV service offering over 50 standard digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services through an aerial with no monthly bills. In addition, Freeview HD offers four free HD channels – BBC One HD, The BBC HD Channel, ITV1 HD and Channel4 HD.

Freeview is managed by DTV Services Ltd, a company owned and run by its five shareholders – BBC, BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva.

 [1]  Based on 26.4 million households in the UK, Census 2012

[2]  Survey of 2,000 UK viewers conducted by Populous commissioned by Freeview in March 2013

[3]  Based on a 47% decline of annual uasage in last five years at  continuing projected rate over 5 years

[4]  Average number of tapes x 26.4 million households

[5]  BARB Establishment Survey, Q4 2012

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