You all are very spoiled travelers. There was indeed a time before PTVs, indeed decades of intercontinental jet travel without PTVs.
I once did 24 hours of travel from Australia to the US without PTVs in the 1980s. We read, slept, or talked. Ultimately, we survived. When Pan Am launched 747SP service on the JFK
-Tokyo route, there were no PTVs in any class.
I traveled on UAL to Korea last year in coach without PTVs on their 747-400s. Their services was very nice, good food, free booze, and quite comfortable seats.
I think with the cost challenges facing the world's legacy airlines in all countries, I think people should face the reality that service perks will be diminishing over the long-term. As more and more of the world's population demand air travel at lower costs, something is going to have to give.
What US airlines have faced in the last few years and, indeed, decades, will eventually occur on a global scale. Even Asian carriers with their very high level of service will eventually face lower-cost competition within their region and will be faced with the same cost-cutting choices that US carriers hace faced over the past twenty years.
It is important to remember that the US was the first country to initiative deregulation of its domestic airline industry. The rest of the world has really only just begun this process. Better enjoy the frills and extras while they last.