WORLD CUP: Measuring soccermania with boiling tea kettles

The National Grid, which operates British electrical lines, have been prepared for power surges known as ''TV pick-up'' as television viewers around Britain switch on tea kettles at halftime of England's World Cup matches.

At halftime of Sunday's England-Ecuador game, fans caused the use of electricity to jump by 1,600 megawatts -- the equivalent of 640,000 kettles being boiled. During the England-Sweden game, the power surge was 1,800 megawatts.

The record power surge took place on July 4, 1990, when the use of electricity jumped by 2,800 megawatts during the England-West Germany World Cup semifinal. World Cup games account for four of the 10 highest power surges in British TV history. Other power surges in the Top 10 include episodes of British sitcoms as well as the ''Who Shot J.R.?'' episode of ''Dallas.'' In recent years, power surges have lessened as British TV viewing has diversified because of cable and satellite offerings.

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