One of the all-time records for TV pick-ups came in 1984 when the BBC aired “The Thorn Birds” mini-series It is a distinctly British phenomenon: millions of viewers leaping up from the sofa at the end of a popular television show to boil the kettle or raid the fridge, causing a big spike in demand for electricity. But as more and more people use on-demand television services to watch their favourite dramas whenever they like, the TV power pick-up has faded to a feeble version of its former self. Historically, surges in demand have been so big that National Grid, the network operator, keeps back-up power stations on standby to make sure the system stays stable. Grid managers also have a subscription to the Radio Times to monitor looming blockbusters that are likely to draw big ratings. Because of the growth of services su ch as BBC’s iPlayer and other catch-up options, however, fewer people are watching programmes live – and the Grid says that is having a big effect on TV pick-ups. “We see as many but they are much, much smaller than they were,” said Jeremy Caplin, forecasting manager at National Grid. “The way that people watch TV has meant that they have come down in size.” The share of time-shifted television viewing rose to 13 per cent last year, up from about 6 per cent in 2010, industry data show.
FT 3rd Oct 2016 read more »