Thursday, April 20, 2006

Online enthusiasts who surf the Internet until the cows come home now can literally watch the cows come home and do whatever else it is that cows do.

The Public Broadcasting Service yesterday introduced, an inside look at the daily life of Texas Longhorn cattle via wireless cameras attached to their collars.

So what is it that cattle on the farm near the Johnson Space Center in Wallis, Texas, look at all day? Mostly grass, their own shadows and other cattle, based on a random sampling yesterday. features a “Cow of the Day” profile, including the current one on Watson 101, the world record holder with a tip-to-tip horn measurement of 100 inches. “He enjoys quality eats such as prime alfalfa cube and fresh spring grass, although he’s not adverse to a bit of late season hay when the grass is poor,” according to the site.

Another site feature, the “Pasture Blog,” included this bit of wisdom from 101 posted by Moo Writer: “Oh — almost forgot, they tell me that my footage will all be up on Friday — that it will be an ALL 101 day. Pretty cool, eh? You’ll all get to see the exciting life of the longest horned steer in the world, all from my point of view. I’m sure you’ll love it.”

The site is being used to promote “Texas Ranch House,” an eight-part PBS history series debuting May 1 that sends a group of men and women to 1867 Texas to experience the Old West.

“It’s a fun way to engage people and draw people to ‘Texas Ranch House,’” said Carrie L. Johnson, senior director of prime-time publicity at Alexandria-based PBS, adding that the site generated “thousands of page views” yesterday.

Ms. Johnson said a collaborative internal effort led to the idea, which was then spearheaded by Richard Vincent, assistant director of print and online ad production. She added that the site was an affordable way to promote the program through word-of-mouth and people passing around the Web address electronically, but declined to say how much it cost.

“It’s kind of a first for us; I think it’s a first for a lot of people,” said Dan Riley, interactive director at Peel Interactive Media in Seattle, which created the site for PBS. “It’s certainly different and we were pretty excited about trying to make it actually happen.”

As for future promotional efforts taking Web site form, “the sky’s the limit,” Ms. Johnson said.


“Anything you can strap a camera to,” Mr. Riley said.

PBS delivers content to 348 public noncommercial television stations and reaches nearly 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. The nonprofit’s press release also noted that no animals were harmed in the making of or “Texas Ranch House.”

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