When Andrew Pritchett started the eagle cam last year at the nest on Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers, he was expecting about 5 million hits by now.
Those numbers were woefully conservative.
On Jan 6, the eagle cam reached the 20 million mark as viewers, as many as 10,000 at any given moment, have watched Ozzie and Harriet and their two eaglets continue to grow and, this week, learn to brave the cold.
"Twenty million is a lot. It's exciting. I wouldn't have dreamed we would reach 20 million. The family was guessing how many views we would get and I said 5 million and my dad said it would be 12 million," Pritchett said. "We never thought it would be 20 million."
Pritchett said the eagle cam continues to get a steady stream of viewers, with occasional spikes due to media coverage and other eagle-related milestones.
The eagle cam started modestly, with only a few hundred casual viewers. But as the eggs were laid and were set to hatch around New Years Day, the excitement created and the media coverage associated with it put the Pritchett Eagle Cam on the international map.
Pritchett said one particular story on Fox4 last year created spike to as many as 10,000 at any one moment, which is about the same viewership as a lower-rung cable network.
"This time last year was when we really started to receive the national attention as the eggs were about to hatch," Pritchett said. "This year, since we've had a following all year long, we've had a high viewership since we started."
Meanwhile, a second camera, which was put in this fall to show the eagles in their habitat, has seen much slower traffic. About 550,000 have viewed it, with only a couple hundred at any one time.
Pritchett said the camera, which is able to pan and zoom, will become more of a factor as the eaglets get closer to fledging.
"Last year around mid-March was when the eaglets started to branch, and after that the main camera is weak because they weren't in the nest so much," Pritchett said. "With the other camera we can see their movement and see the learning stages of flying and going around the pasture."
Pritchett said Hope and Honor, last year's fledges, spent much of their time near the pond once they learned to fly, so the second camera should be able to catch this year's hatchlings once they begin to fly.
Pritchett also said he's considering some merchandising of Ozzie and Harriett with T-shirts and coffee mugs.
"We're excited to do this for everyone, and it's been great the community has been able to watch," Pritchett said.
Visit dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html to get a live look at Ozzie and Harriet and their brood.