Panda Cam: An Empirical Investigation
For a camera that just watches cute bears going about their everyday lives in human-constructed confines, the Panda Cam gets a lot of hype. The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Post were just a few of the publications that chronicled the camera's shutdown demise and post-shutdown revival. (Yeah, we're guilty, too.)
But do people actually watch the Panda Cam, or does it simply enjoy an outsized cool factor among journalists and the Twitterati?
The short answer: Yes.
Yesterday, the first day the cameras were up and running after the shutdown, 110,000 people clicked to watch the pandas. (That doesn't include viewers using the zoo's mobile app.) The number likely would have been higher, but the website can only accommodate 850 connections viewing the cameras at a time, according to Devin Murphy, a communications specialist at the zoo. Viewers are kicked off after 15 minutes to allow for more panda-curious eyes to catch a glimpse.
On the last day before the shutdown, Sept. 30, 102,000 people tuned in.
Murphy says the zoo doesn't have stats available on what viewership is like on an average day, but said between Aug. 23—the day the baby panda born—and Sept. 16 the site had more than 1.2 million clicks to view the panda cams.
As City Desk writes this around 3 p.m., the Panda Cam does not appear to be at capacity and Mei Xiang is snuggling with her baby panda.
Photo via the Smithsonian's National Zoo Flickr, Creative Commons License.