Third of households still use a VCR

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Nearly a third of UK households are still using the very first ground breaking “timeshifting” TV technology – the humble VCR, TV Licensing has reported.

The video cassette recorders became widely available 35 years ago – and 29 per cent of households continue to use one.

Early models cost around £800, the equivalent of £3,800 in today’s money, but as prices came down, more and more people could indulge their television interests by recording live TV to watch at their leisure. Ownership of VCRs peaked in 1998 when more than 84 per cent had one.

Since then, the PVR – personal video recorder, such as a Sky+ box or Virgin TiVo – has been in the ascendant, with 47 per cent of UK homes being owners.

Mark Whitehouse, TV Licensing spokesperson for the East Midlands, said: “The ability to record television and watch programmes back at your own convenience, which is something we take for granted now, was a seismic event in TV history.

“Until the arrival of the VCR, if you wanted to watch a programme you needed to be planted in front of your television at home, and if two of your favourite programmes clashed, you had to make a choice. After the introduction of the VCR our rigid television programme schedules changed forever.”

A colour TV Licence currently costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or mobile device.

For further information about licensing requirements and ways to pay, visit