Geek Trivia

Spikes In Electrical Usage During Television Breaks Are Known As?

Madison Surges
Kettle Bombs
White Outs
TV Pickups
The Film Back To The Future Is Banned In China Because It Features?

Answer: TV Pickups

Although invisible to the consumer, there’s a curious correlation between television viewing habits and electrical consumption that keeps the engineers behind the scenes on their toes in order to deliver consistent and stable power.

The correlation is known as a “TV pickup” and it hinges on the increased demand placed on the electrical grid when consumers pull extra power (via the use of electrical appliances) during commercial breaks in popular television programs.

When television viewers race to fire up electric kettles for tea and microwaves for snacks during the commercials, it can easily put a sudden extra 200-400 megawatt load on the power grid. If the bit about electric kettles didn’t give it away, this phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the United Kingdom where a love of tea and a wide spread use of electric kettles to brew it yields very high demands on the electrical grid during popular programming.

The largest recorded “TV pickup” event occurred in July of 1990 when a penalty shootout between England and West Germany in a FIFA World Cup semi-finals game kept Britains riveted to the television for an extended period. When the broadcast cut to commercial, the demand on the grid surged up to 2800 megawatts as millions of people fired up their appliances.