An eagle perches in the nest overseen by the city of Kenai’s streaming Eagle Cam on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Kenai, Alaska. The camera — located on the property of a Kenai resident who remains anonymous to protect the eagles from harassment — streamed online for the first time last July, drawing about 2 million viewer-minutes. On Wednesday, the Kenai city council voted unanimously to spend $1,600 on an upgraded camera for the site. Though the feed is only public in the summer, it still streams into Kenai City Hall, where Kenai information technology manager Dan Castimore took this recent capture. (Courtesy City of Kenai).

Kenai Eagle Cam to upgrade hardware, advertising plan

For their second summer of live-streaming the view from atop a local eagle’s nest, Kenai’s city government and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce plan to give the Kenai Eagle Cam an upgraded camera, an accompanying blog of eagle information, and more opportunity for advertising.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander introduced the Eagle Cam — an online camera observing a pair of eagles nesting on the property of a Kenai resident, who remains anonymous to prevent harassment of the nest — at the Kenai City Council’s May 17, 2017 meeting as a tool for local promotion. By showing a feed from the camera on the websites of the city and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, as well as in the smartphone app the city released for dipnetters that summer, Ostrander hoped to promote the city by driving web traffic to these sites. The feed, hosted on YouTube, drew about 2 million viewer-minutes, acording to a memo from Ostrander to the city council.

The camera that generated last year’s feed belonged to the property owner, who had originally put it up for personal use before sharing it with the city. On Wednesday the Kenai City Council voted to spend $1,600 on an upgraded camera for next summer’s Eagle Cam feed, which will provide higher definition, better audio, and a better picture in low light. According to the text of the purchasing ordinance, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, the city government’s partner in the project, expects to pay back the $1,600 with future advertising revenue from the feed.

Last year’s YouTube-hosted Eagle Cam feed had advertising also provided by YouTube, which the city opted in to, according to Kenai information technology manager Dan Castimore. Castimore did not know precisely how much the city had made in YouTube advertising last summer, but said it was less than $100 — the amount at which YouTube sends a check for advertising earnings, which the city hasn’t yet received.

Kenai administrators and their partners in the Kenai Chamber of Commerce haven’t decided where the Eagle Cam will be hosted next summer, nor the details of the advertising arrangements — questions that Ostrander said he and Kenai Chamber of Commerce President Johna Beech would plan in a meeting on Friday. Though local promotion is the Eagle Cam’s goal, Ostrander said the advertising opportunities wouldn’t be limited to local businesses.

“What was envisioned is that the advertising will be offered virtually to anyone,” Ostrander said. “The thing about the Eagle Cam is you’ll get viewership from all around the world, so really your advertising opportunities are limitless. I don’t think we need to limit the advertising opportunities there. Ultimately the objective of the Eagle Cam is to bring internet traffic to the Chamber’s website, and the city’s website — one or the other, or both — and while the visitor’s there, they find out more things about our area, become interested in visiting or locating a business here. It’s about generating interest in Kenai, but the advertising component, really there’s no limit, because it’s going to be so expansive.”

The Eagle Cam may be displayed on a blog that Kenai and the Chamber are planning to build, Beech said, where bird experts could write about the behavior of the nesting eagles and answer questions from viewers. Recruiting qualified writers for the blog is another future task.

“We are going to reach out to the Kenai Peninsula birding club, and we’re going to reach out to the (Kenai National) Wildlife Refuge — people that are knowlegable in regards to birding and eagles,” Beech said.

Reach Ben Boettger at bboettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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