Recently, while we were in the middle of our house renovations, we had to remove the satellite dish from the side of the house so we lost our TV signal for a couple of days. I know! Two days without TV?! How absolutely medieval. I managed to survive but it sure opened my eyes as to how much I was relying on the bloody thing.
But can you imagine? Right when the fall lineup of new TV shows are coming on and the baseball pennant races are heating up and the ‘Riders have won three in-a-row and the NFL and NHL are about to start up again and you lose your TV? I shudder at the thought.
I’m not the only TV addict in the house, mind you. I am sure that my wife’s greatest fear is that something very serious is going to happen to me and she won’t know which remote does what to which machine. Well, maybe it’s not her GREATEST fear but I think it’d be up there. It’s not that she is incapable of operating remotes, that goes without saying, but she’s never been given much of an opportunity to do so.
I’m pretty sure our household is not alone in that regard, with both the TV watching and the controlling of the remote control, that is. And apparently I’m not the only sports fanatic in the world either. In the United States four out of the top ten and eight out of the top fifteen most watched shows of all time were sporting events. In Canada the top five are all sporting events. And yes, four out of those five involve hockey.
Although sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA’s World Cup Finals are watched by almost billions of people other events have captured our attention, too. It is estimated that 14% of the world’s population in 1969 watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon despite the fact that the event occurred in the middle of the night in Europe and it was not broadcast at all in Eastern Bloc countries.
If there was any doubt that Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ‘n Roll then his “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in January of 1973 is proof positive. The event was the "first entertainment special to be broadcast live around the world" and was the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history, viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. Some breakdowns of the figures suggest that 40% of the Japanese television audience, 51% of the American and 91.8% of the audience in the Philippines tuned in to the broadcast.
I was surprised to fine out that the world’s first mechanical television system was patented by German engineering student Paul Nipkow in 1884. The first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began in 1928 but network television broadcasts began on the DuMont Television Network in 1946, NBC in 1947 and on CBS and ABC in 1948. The Canadian Broadcasting Company began television broadcasting in Canada in September of 1952. We’ve been up to here in TV ever since.
There have been a whole lot of innovations and advances in the ol’ Boob-Tube since its inception back in the day; from the grainy old black and white images to today’s 3D television and everything in between. One thing that hasn’t really changed in all of that time is our obsession with all things TV. If there was any doubt about that just try to go without it for a day or two and you’ll see.
“Television is the first truly democratic culture-the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.”- Clive Barnes (1927-2008).