iPanda.com Giant Pandas On Camera
August 6, 2013 was a special day for giant pandas. China Network Television (CNTV) launched the long-awaited iPanda.com, a channel devoted to this world-famous species. At 2:30pm that afternoon, a grand ceremony took place at the Beijing Media Center where honored guests witnessed the historic event. In attendance were Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Bureau and Hu Zhanfan, president of China Central Television (CCTV). Various officials and experts on giant panda research and conservation also participated. Renowned CCTV presenters Ouyang Xiadan and Ji Xiaojun hosted the ceremony, conducted in both Chinese and English, providing a seemingly effortless translation for the audience.
The 70-minute ceremony featured still images, videos, live coverage, and on-site interviews revolving around giant panda conservation and appreciation. The event opened with a delightful and energetic kung fu routine by several performers in panda costumes, followed by Li Yundi’s talented piano concert and on-screen photos entitled "Beautiful China". The Chinese-English bilingual features of the panda channel website, as well as a mobile phone application, were also introduced at the event.
During the ceremony, Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, delivered his best wishes for iPanda.com in a lively and humorous tone. He also announced the good news of giant panda twins successfully born at Zoo Atlanta, United States of America. Lun Lun, the proud mother panda, hails from Chengdu but currently lives at Zoo Atlanta. Delighted responses to this welcome news rippled through the crowd of onlookers like a refreshing midsummer breeze.
China Network Television (CNTV) developed iPanda.com as a new international media outlet to reach global citizens with the message of giant panda conservation. Through multiple electronic devices and in numerous languages, iPanda.com focuses on the rare species unique to China. The iPanda.com showcases the lovely pandas and how they are protected, conveying peace, friendliness, and benefiting the public around the world.
24-Hour Live Coverage of Giant Pandas
Now panda fans across the globe can live stream giant pandas simply by clicking on the iPanda.com website at any time. This is made possible by a network of cameras set up by China Network Television (CNTV).
CNTV set up 28 cameras throughout five of the main giant panda enclosures at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The cameras provide 24-hour live coverage of the pandas' daily lives, activities, and even facial expressions. All the video feeds are delivered to an on-site television control room where the operators monitor and switch between the different cameras depending on what is going on in each enclosure. They select the best quality and most interesting panda videos from the 28 cameras and transfer them into 10 SD signals and 1 featured HD signal to transmit to the iPanda.com website. Using a global video distribution network, CNTV enables audiences from all over the world to enjoy excellent live coverage of giant pandas at the panda base. The new channel is a hotspot for worldwide panda fans as they can now watch every movement that giant pandas make.
The cameras are operated remotely by staff in a control room and can capture images from a variety of angles and with various background scenes. Cameras are carefully hidden in and around the giant panda enclosures, though occasionally they are discovered. The protective glass around one of the cameras got damaged when some curious cubs from the panda kindergarten found it and made some scratch marks while they played with it. That particular camera is usually buried under the lawn in their enclosure and provides some unique and personal views from ground level. Never before has such an intimate look into the lives of giant pandas been available to the world.
The World Responds
Professor Lyu Zhi, a faculty member from the School of Life Sciences, Peking University, sent warm congratulations on the broadcasting of the iPanda.com website. Distinguished zoologist Dr. George Schaller commented that the iPanda.com website broadcasts were significant events in the effort to increase the world's comprehension and dedication to giant panda conservation.
On iPanda.com, the high-visibility programs are obvious but what is not always forefront is the generous giving and hard work put in to making it a success. Twenty-four hour support from the staff at CNTV and Hanyastar Corporation make this endeavor possible. Staff members unanimously agree that all the hard work and long hours are worth it to help the precious giant pandas.
Since its launch, the iPanda.com website catalogued impressive statistics. After just 10 days of live broadcasts, there were 50,000 hits on the site per day. Viewers watched the live coverage, with August 5 tallying an impressive 170,000 hits. 51% of the hits came from outside of China as viewers watched live coverage after the website officially began broadcasting. This was an 18% increase in foreign views from the testing period. Repeat visits surpassed 50% with the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada as the top three foreign countries in number of views. During the second week of August, iPanda.com was selected as the world's best website by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
With such a successful start, iPanda.com is well on its way to becoming the favorite website and daily fix for millions of giant panda fans. May it continue to have such great success.