Advent of on-demand television has changed Brits' TV viewing habits

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London, April 21 : Being glued to television at the same time all around the UK has become a thing of the past in the country, thanks to the advent of on-demand television, which has brought a revolution in the nation's viewing habits over the past few years.

Power chiefs have revealed that the TV-related electricity surge, which caused millions of viewers simultaneously rush to the kitchen to put on a kettle, has decreased to a point where it barely qualifies as a ripple.

And they blame it on the arrival of on-demand television such as Sky Plus and the BBC's iPlayer, and the greater choice of channels available, which means that viewers can watch shows when they like and no longer have the same tea breaks.

The National Grid said that there has been changes in viewing habits due to on-demand TV services, internet television, time-shifted channels such as Channel 4+1 - which transmits programmes an hour after the original showing - and the explosion in the number of TV channels available, from five to many hundreds in some households.

The biggest draws of the pre-digital era could add 2,600 megawatts to electricity demand - the equivalent of more than one million kettles being switched on at once - but current surges will only reach 400 MW, just 160,000 in kettles.

This is the most dramatic evidence, which suggests that the UK is no longer sitting down as a nation to watch the same shows at the same time.

The National Grid said that modern surges are barely noticeable as compared to surges of the post that could see a rise in power demand of as much as 10 percent.

Besides sports events, none of the top 10 biggest ever surges were recorded in the past six years.

In the UK, 4.6 million households, almost a fifth, use cable and satellite on-demand TV services.

Also, about 2.1 million households are now watching full TV programmes on the Internet at least once a week, using software such as the BBC's iPlayer and Channel 4's 4oD service.

"One of the things which national broadcasting did was structure everybody's life around a rigid timetable. Women were in through the day and they had women's programmes; the children would come in and there were children's programmes," Scotsman quoted Dr James Stewart, a senior research fellow in Media and Communications at Edinburgh University, as saying.

"Then there was family viewing in the evening, and the system even tried to lay down a time for children to go to bed.

"This shows that the national timetable has broken down and people are having TV fit around them, and increasingly watching what they want when they want," he added.

But TV experts said that schedules were still relevant to millions of viewers.

Howard Davies, head of media strategy at Deloitte Touche, said: "Schedules will still matter for things like sport, and the soaps still attract considerable audiences when they are on.

"But we are seeing changes, not just the on-demand services, but the time-shifted services like Channel 4+1 are having their own effect."

"The last non-sport TV surge was in April 2001, when millions of viewers tuned in to EastEnders to find out who had shot Phil Mitchell. That caused a surge of 2,290MW.

"By contrast, the surge after the first episode of the latest series of Doctor Who and All New You've Been Framed, only managed 400MW," he added.

A spokesman for the National Grid said: "It's very telling that when you look at the list of the top 10 surges in demand, they are all very much shows of the past, things like the Thorn Birds and Dallas in the 1980s, and The Darling Buds Of May. It seems to be down to changes in viewing habits."

Top 10 programs that caused electricity surge:

July 1990 - World Cup Semi-Final England v Germany, when Gazza cried. (2,800MW)

January 1984 - Final episode of The Thornbirds (2,600MW)

June 2002 - World Cup Semi-Final England v Brazil (2,570MW)

June 2002 - World Cup England v Nigeria (2,340MW)

April 2001 - EastEnders, who shot Phil Mitchell? (2,290MW)

May 1985 - Dallas - Not who shot JR, but Bobby Ewing, above, meets his death in a car crash (2,200MW)

April 1991 - The Darling Buds of May. Catherine Zeta Jones's Marietta Larkin gets married. (2,200MW)

November 2003 - Rugby World Cup Final England v Australia. (2,110MW)

April 1994 - Coronation Street - Emily Bishop is ditched by Leonard Swindley (2,100MW)

June 1998 World Cup England v Argentina (2,100MW)

ANI

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