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Staggered breaks to reduce peak load

reduce super-peak load on the electric grid
  [vote for,

Apparently certain popular TV programs synchronise people's activity to the extent that they cause a strain on the electrical grid: At the start of an ad break, many people simultaniously switch the kettle on to make a lovely cup of tea.

If this is indeed a problem it could be reduced by collusion between the broadcasters and power generation organisation.
By one method, the ad-breaks within the program could be staggered on broadcast to different regions.
By another, the entire broadcast schedule could be shifted by up to a few minutes.

Both have advantages and disadvantages. The first obviously doesn't deal with the break at the end of any particular program, and would be tricky to fit to scene boundaries. The second method is probably preferrable, although it would create a need to inform the population of which TV-time-zone they were in.

Loris, Apr 27 2011


       This would be redundant if they implimented live market pricing for electricity supply, with autonomous agent appliances able to bid for power. That way, TV watchers could instruct their kettles how much they are willing to pay for boiling water; the kettles of meaner owners could predict the spike and boil 10 minutes earlier. Less organised households could watch the real-time price display on the screen of their electric meter and decide whether to make tea now or wait till the end of the advertisement break.
pocmloc, Apr 27 2011

       Another trick would be unpredictably short ad breaks, so people were afraid to leave for fear of missing good bits, which would invariably follow the ad.
bungston, Apr 27 2011

       DVRs and various on demand systems are well on their way to doing this without any outside effort. Apparently up to 20% of viewers are watching TV delayed already.
MechE, Apr 27 2011

       This would be good, but it's a sort of "let's all". Ad breaks seem to be synchronized between stations (which is perhaps what you meant), as well as between regions. I'm sure de-synching them would resolve a lot of headaches at the power-stations.   

       However, I'm pretty sure that different stations synch their commercial breaks for a commercial reason. Any station that was "out of synch" would lose viewers at each ad break, since those viewers would channel-hop and find something interesting on another station. So, by timing their breaks to coincide with their rivals, they ensure that nothing else will lure their viewers away.   

       Staggering breaks by region, though, is a brilliant idea (I presume it would be easy to implement, too). However, this would mean shifting the whole schedule by, say, 5 minutes in one area, 10 minutes in another, which would mess things up (like News at Ten) and require different programme listings for each region.   

       Still, [+] because it seems stupid that TV should create the necessity for so much extra infrastructure to cope with its scheduling.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 27 2011

       I don’t know anyone that still watches broadcast television. I thought everyone time-shifted it by recording more than they can possibly watch onto a PVR, watching on Youtube or similar, downloading mkvs and watching on a media player, or streaming from somewhere expensive like Lovefilm.   

       The television industry will, if it doesn’t give up this stupid broadcast schedule mentality of olde, go the same way that the record industry went, probably howling just as loudly. All people want is content silos, and the access and rights mechanisms to get it wherever and whenever they want.   

       Same as the extant mobile phone companies. All people want is mobile data provisioning, they can do the calling using an app, and increasingly do. Actual phone calling is going down, considerably.
Ian Tindale, Apr 27 2011

       //I don’t know anyone that still watches broadcast television//   

       How many people do you know?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 27 2011

       //require different programme listings for each region.//   

       Not really. News at Ten starts at the same time everywhere but breaks at different times during the broadcast in different regions. So long as the break times are the same, the broadcast will finish at the same time everywhere, thus causing peak load problems only once.   

       This has the added advantage of allowing greater targetting of advertising (for example: Polish Pete's Peacock Polishers could advertise only in the Buchannan Estate's region).
methinksnot, Apr 28 2011

       That must be one of those Warhol-esque quotes, such as everyone will have 15 mins of fame; 15 minutes of fame being a necessary condition of being considered part of everyone. To say one does not know anybody who watches broadcast television is not the same as saying nobody watches it. Anybody who is anybody doesn't watch broadcast television, but nobody certainly does.
rcarty, Apr 28 2011

       //Staggering breaks by region, though, is a brilliant idea (I presume it would be easy to implement, too). However, this would mean shifting the whole schedule by, say, 5 minutes in one area, 10 minutes in another, which would mess things up (like News at Ten) and require different programme listings for each region.//   

Actually I think the optimal shift would be something less than the length of a break. Better to have smaller regions merging at the edges to create a long, even surge than fewer spikes, minutes apart. So the maximum offset might be plus and minus a couple of minutes, which the TV guide can then ignore.

       News at Ten probably isn't a problem - it's the soaps like Corronation St.
Given that, it may be that it's particular breaks which cause the issue - probably the end of the program is the big one. So a fine-tuned solution would be to change not the position of the breaks within the critical program, but the lengths of the neigbouring breaks. So one region would have short breaks throughout the program and a long break at the end, and the other extreme would have longer interstitial ads and a very short break at the end before the next program. No need to worry viewers about changing start times, or alternative cuts within the program. But each region would need to key up their ads seperately.
Loris, Apr 28 2011


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