TV pickup

TV pickup is a term used in the United Kingdom to refer to a phenomenon that affects electricity generation and transmission networks. It often occurs when a large number of people watch the same TV programmes while taking advantage of breaks in programming to use toilets and operate electrical appliances. A typical TV pickup imposes an extra demand of 200–400 megawatts, with larger soap storylines bringing around 700–800 MW.

About TV pickup in brief

Summary TV pickupTV pickup is a term used in the United Kingdom to refer to a phenomenon that affects electricity generation and transmission networks. It often occurs when a large number of people watch the same TV programmes while taking advantage of breaks in programming to use toilets and operate electrical appliances. A typical TV pickup imposes an extra demand of 200–400 megawatts, with larger soap storylines bringing around 700–800 MW. A sudden increase in demand, unmatched by an increase in supply, causes a drop in the mains frequency across the Grid. The largest ever pickup was on 4 July 1990, when a 2800 MW demand was imposed by the ending of the penalty shootout in the England v West Germany FIFA World Cup semi-final.

The introduction of a wider range of TV channels is mitigating the effect, but it remains a large concern for the National Grid operators. There are typically several large peaks in energy use caused by TV pickup during each day, dependent on TV schedules, the day of the week and weather. The biggest pickup of the day is usually at 21: 00, when several popular TV programmes end or go to commercial breaks. The most popular programmes, hence those giving the greatest pickup are soaps, sporting events, and reality TV.