Friday, April 01, 2011

Email from ESPN: the "American Big Day Birding League"

I received the email pasted below a couple of days ago. Wow. I guess a lot of you have received the same email but if not; have a read. My thoughts on this pretty surprising development are at the end of the email as are the attached screenshots Lindsey mentions.

Dear Bird Blogger 

For several years ESPN have been monitoring the development of competitive birding with a view to future programming opportunities. After a 3 year collaboration with many of the leading names in birding optics we are delighted to be able to announce the launch this fall of the American Big Day Team Birding League.

In the American Big Day Team Birding League, teams of 4 birders will compete to see as many birds as possible in a 24 hour period on a series of 6 big days in a range of habitats across the USA in a race to crown America’s top birding team with the winners taking home the prestigious Peterson Cup. Competitors will be issued with specially modified optics with in-built cameras to allow the audience at home to actually see what our birders are seeing and each big day will receive extensive multimedia coverage with multiple live feeds being broadcast on and regular live updates on ESPN.

ESPN is confident that our use of advanced technology including our in-optic cameras, GPS locator units and parabolic microphones together with our expertise in televising outdoor sports will leave birdwatchers throughout the USA more than satisfied with the coverage provided for this most unique of sporting events.

I attach some screenshots to illustrate some of the remarkable views you may see this fall on our coverage. Commentary will be provided by ESPN’s own Cotton McKnight with expert on-air analysis, colour commentary and field reports coming from a range of birding personalities and legends.

Seven of the ten teams contesting the inaugural American Big Day Team Birding League have already been selected but there is still time to get involved. Over the summer three qualifying big day events will be held in New York, California and Texas with the winning teams from each event earning the right to participate in the first league. Please let us know by replying to this email if you would like further details of how to enter a team in any of these qualifying events. In addition we are looking to work with a number of birding bloggers to provide online associated content related to our competitive birding programming and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further. If you are interested in working with us in this regard I would be grateful if you would get in touch and let me know of a suitable time at which we could discuss this further.

With kindest regards,

Lindsey Nagel
Executive Producer, outdoor programming, ESPN8.

Here are a couple of the screenshots Lindsey mentions. Apparently these emerged during a 5 team "test run" a while ago in the New York area.


Here's a shot from one of the in-optic cameras which will basically let the viewer see what one of the birders on each team sees. I don't know quite how or if these will work but if the quality is as good as this appears to suggest it should be pretty remarkable. Looks like the graphics are works in progress!

The shot below shows the GPS Locator screen which will apparently be used to show where the different teams are headed to in their attempts to find birds. I suspect this'll be a really cool feature for the casual viewer who'll probably be pretty amazed at the different habitats each team will find whilst remaining close to various connurbations.


The ducks obviously represent each team and again are clearly in rough draft form. Apparently this test run was really competitive
; with some teams en route to habitats where they could pick up 20-30 species  and others having already ticked them off there were massive swings through the day. This kind of dramatic movement in the scoring from hour to hour should make for an interesting event I reckon.

Suffice it to say I was more than a little interested so I got in touch with Lindsey directly to discuss matters and can let the cat out of the bag that I'll be an "official blogger" providing thoughts on the League for it's online presence. 

My caribbean experience has also led (hopefully) to me being involved as a participant in the what's being called the James Bond Goldeneye Shootout - that's right ESPN plants to take this international for some events in the tropics in winter too and I'll be involved in the Barbados event!

Until then I'll be keeping you up to date with developments on the League (and hopefully some other competitive birding events ESPN wants to get involved with too) and will be blogging on what's happening here and over at the Competitive Birding pages on the Ochozone. Pretty exciting times!


corey said...

I can't believe you managed to get permission to post this already! The goons from ESPN threatened me and scared me into holding off on posting about it!

Great scoop!

tai haku said...

Embargo ended at midnight - luckily my midnight is before yours and theirs!!

NickL said...

/looking at calendar

ah yes, well played.

allen said...

I was so excited about this concept I spent 15 minutes Googling for more. It helped your cause that I didn't see it until April 3....

Yes, this would be awesome!