IPTV With a Twist - Bird Watching Reality TV

A colleague of mine here in Toronto, Mike Kinrys, sent this my way yesterday, as he knew about my interest in IPTV. I thought this was really neat, and wanted to share it here.

Disruptive technologies work in all kinds of ways, and here's a great example. Mike's wife is a bird watcher, and a fellow bird watcher out in British Columbia has done something that sure looks like IPTV to me - with a twist.

He's trained a webcam 24/7 on the nest of a bald eagle who is incubating her egg(s). This doesn't make for compelling viewing for me, but apparently it's HUGELY interesting for bird watchers out there.

How interesting? How about 3+ MILLION visits per day. I'd say that's traffic to die for. All to watch and listen to a bird sit in her nest and not do a whole lot else.

The site is called - not surprisingly, Eagle Eye - love the name. This is so Seinfeld, it isn't funny, but this guy is definitely on to something. Unlike the pilot of Seinfeld, where Jerry and George had a hard time getting network executives to buy into a show that was basically "about nothing", Eagle Eye has just gone out and done it.

Well, Eagle Eye is arguably about nothing, unless you're a bird watcher. But he didn't have to sell it to any producers or networks that controlled the content, the channel, the distribution, the rights, the money, the syndication, etc., etc.

He's got the perfect business model for the Web 2.0/IPTV world:

- a totally open channel to reach his audience, and at no cost
- total artistic control
- zero production cost (maybe a few bucks for hosting)
- zero time to market
- real time content that refreshes and updates itself
- a huge built in audience
- zero marketing costs
- lots of sponsors who want to get in front of his traffic

Now, I don't know if he's really making money. And due to the huge traffic loads, he runs out of bandwidth to provide streaming video sometimes (which I'm sure can be fixed). However, once you see this, you just go, uh huh! Anyone can do this, I suppose if you're creative enough and see the opportunity.

Of course, you may hear from wildlife activists decrying exploitation. And what do you do when the eggs hatch? Will the nest stay in its location? What happens if the eagle packs up and leaves, or somehow the nest gets dislodged? All kinds of what-ifs here, but I think the basic idea is there - for all to see and run with.

This is reality TV of the lowest order, but there is a market for anything, especially in the always-on world of broadband. So, if you can do something like this, and attract traffic volumes that any major network would be happy to get - at no cost - you can be pretty sure that we're on the verge of some very interesting times as the worlds of IP and broadcasting collide.