“Good evening, and welcome to television”. Those were the first words uttered on Australian television airwaves in 1956. For 64 years, we’ve been laughing, crying and shouting at our televisions. The stories got bigger, as did the screens, and everyone has their own show. This is how we got here.

Before there was streaming; before TV had profiles, and before anyone knew what 4K even meant, there was the simple idea that good, entertaining and informative content could be beamed into people’s homes via the airwaves. As we celebrate the launch of BINGE – Australia’s unturnoffable streaming service and home of premium, award-winning content – we wanted to look back at just how we got to this place of incredible small-screen storytelling. Find out how you can get a year of BINGE on Telstra.

Welcome to television

Bruce Gyngell was his name.

The man who spoke those warm and welcoming words to Australians on September 16, 1956. At 7pm, he appeared for the very first time, even credited as the “First Host” on the screen.

He wore a suit and a bowtie, and viewers in Sydney and Melbourne were warmly ushered into a new age of modern information and entertainment.

Television was more than just a fly-by-night fad, however. Australians had been shown the possibilities of wireless images beamed into their homes at a number of demonstrations over the previous two decades.

Experimental transmissions were happening in Brisbane back in 1934, and others around the nation were able to see local demonstrations of television in town halls throughout the country in the 1940s.

Demonstrations aside, however, come September of 1956 not everyone was able to see Mr Gyngell welcome them into the future.

At the time, a television cost hundreds of pounds – back when Australia paid in pounds, of course. By the 1960s, you could still expect to pay the equivalent of $6000 for a 23-inch black and white set for your home. While some TVs still cost that today, you can expect to get a whole lot more for your money.

So, instead of watching from home, many gathered outside store windows to watch the future come to pass. Hundreds congregated under a sign outside the famous windows of Myer in Melbourne Emporium which heralded the arrival of television. That very set is now on display as part of an exhibition of Myer’s history.

The golden age

The next decade saw Australian television go through an incredible golden age. Australia’s TV legends were minted in this time, and many of them are still with us today.

Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton and more came to delight Aussies in their homes every night. Their class popularised television formats we still enjoy today, from quiz shows to talk shows and everything in-between.

Sport and sport analysis came to our screens thanks to World of Sport (later Wide World of Sport), and AFL games were televised for the very first time.

As the price of televisions slowly fell and more sets landed in homes, Aussies were enjoying the collective experience of content. Sports matches were enjoyed together set against the backdrop of the Aussie barbecue. Serialised shows were discussed over the water cooler. We came together to experience defining moments in our history.

The power of television was truly demonstrated in 1969 when man first set foot on the Moon. NASA struck a deal with Australia to help broadcast from the Moon, live, through Australian equipment, including the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station just outside Canberra and the Parkes Radio Telescope in regional New South Wales, as well as the control facility in Sydney owned by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission – Telstra before Telstra.

After the lander had returned home, and several more missions had been broadcast for the world to see, television saw its next great shake-up in 1975 when colour burst onto screens for the first time. It was so revolutionary that it had even been announced by Prime Minister William McMahon three whole years earlier.

As Australia was late to the game on colour, many cashed-up households had already started buying colour televisions as early as 1969. But it wouldn’t be until mid-1975 when the Pakenham races were broadcast in colour that Australians first saw the new dimension of television.

After that, they were hooked. Television was everywhere, with Aussies buying colour TVs faster than just about anywhere in the world, thanks to the availability of content.

The internet, televised

The 1980s and 1990s saw Australians import a flood of television content from international audiences. Everything from Blind Date and Perfect Match through to Jeopardy! and international sport all got a run on the Aussie airwaves.

We also exported a good chunk of television, with the ever-popular exploits of Ramsay Street and Summer Bay (Neighbours and Home and Away, respectively) captivating audiences from the 1970s to this very day.

The 1990s brought with it an explosion of international news content, as the first Gulf War was televised day and night via channels like CNN. Aussies would be able to receive this programming for the first time as subscription television like Austar and Foxtel came to town, offering nearly 60 paid channels compared just a handful on free-to-air.

It wasn’t until after the turn of the new millennium that Australian TV would change forever all over again: the internet had come to change television as we knew it.

Late-2006 brought with it our incredible Next G network, that allowed for 3G broadcasts that put television in people’s pockets. With our long-time partner Foxtel, we helped launch Foxtel by Mobile: 33 channels of live news and entertainment, optimised for the small, small screen. The service exploded, and users were limited to just 200 minutes of viewing per month at the time.

This was one of the first instances of the internet coming to television. But it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Free-to-air players would soon have their own platforms that would slowly evolve to bring more and more entertainment to audiences over the top of traditional broadcast television services, just as services like Netflix and Stan opened for customers.

By 2018, Netflix had over 10 million users in Australia, spurred on by a mix of original content and the ease of access from devices like the Telstra TV. With the Telstra TV, you can consolidate your streaming services into a single box, and unlike TVs in the 1960s, it wouldn’t cost you 5x your average weekly wage.

In fact, the advent of cheap and available services and devices has led to an explosion in content consumption. With hundreds of millions around the world now able to watch content, there has been a new golden age of content.

Creators like the minds behind Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, and Veep now have the latitude to produce movie-quality content for the small screen. This premium content can be consumed just about anywhere via just about any device.

The idea of “channels” no longer dictates viewing habits. Everyone has a favourite streaming service and everyone has their own show.

Australians are now untethered from their lounge rooms, with the ability to watch content on the bus; on the beach with our fast new 5G offering on selected plans with a compatible device in a 5G coverage area. Telstra is rolling out 5G in selected areas.

More content, less cash

With the launch of BINGE, this movie-quality TV content is available more readily than ever. With BINGE, you get more flexibility and access to entertainment both at home and on the go, without having to pay for the content you don’t watch.

BINGE and Telstra Plus go hand-in-hand to get you the best TV on offer. As part of our unmatched sport and entertainment product mix, we’re offering customers* three months access to BINGE Standard on us, while members of the Telstra Plus loyalty program will be eligible for between three and nine months additional complimentary access.

That means if you’re an eligible Telstra Plus customer, you could have up to a year of BINGE content just waiting for you to sign up.

BINGE has three different subscriptions to choose from and customers can change between them whenever they need, plus cancel any time.

To start, BINGE Basic is $10/month, streaming in standard quality with one stream at a time. Step up to BINGE Standard for $14/month and you’ll be able to stream in HD quality on two screens simultaneously, and BINGE Premium ($18/month) is for family households with HD streaming and four streams at once.

Wherever you are, welcome to television all over again.

*excl. prepaid and business customers

Things you need to know

BINGE Offer: 3 months BINGE Standard subscription available to Telstra customers with a consumer post-paid mobile or home internet plan. Redeem by 18 Jan 2021 through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE or on a Telstra TV.

Telstra Plus bonus months: In addition to the BINGE Base Offer available to you, Telstra Plus Members are eligible for an additional 3 months. Silver Tier members are eligible for an additional 6 months and Gold Tier members are eligible for an additional 9 months. Redeem through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE.

BINGE Standard monthly fees (currently $14/mth) apply after offer period ends unless you change or cancel. Offer can be applied to: BINGE Premium (for $4/mth during offer period) or BINGE Basic (for $0/mth during offer period). After offer period, standard monthly prices apply (currently BINGE Premium $18/mth, BINGE Basic $10/mth), unless you change your pack or cancel before the end of your offer period.

Billing: Not compatible with any other BINGE offers. Not compatible with some third party billing platforms. Telstra billing not available for existing BINGE subscribers on another payment method. One redemption per customer account. Requires internet & compatible device and sign up to BINGE Terms of Service. Data charges apply.

Kayo Sports: Offer available to new & returning Kayo customers on a Telstra consumer post-paid plan. Eligible customers must sign up through http://hub.telstra.com.au/kayo or on Telstra TV. Standard monthly fees apply after offer period unless you cancel. One redemption per customer account. Not available in conjunction with any other Kayo offers. Redeem by 30 September 2020. Requires internet & compatible device. Data charges may apply. Event availability correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

Telstra Plus: Must be 18+ with an active service. Excludes enterprise and corporate accounts. Points are earned on payment of Telstra bill or pre-paid recharge (excl. outright purchases, refunds, credits & late payment fees). Points expire 3 years from earning. Marketing opt-in required (preferences can be changed). Exit program anytime.