Everyone likes to take a little peek-a-boo from time to time; whether they'd admit it is a different story. Sometimes after a long night of surveillance, you just want to indulge in some spicy erotica or tweak your fantasy sports rosters. If your interests are as diverse as your attention span is short, then Spy.TV Network is sure to become as familiar to your browser as those James Bond fan blogs have been.
According to the network's home page, the central aim of Spy.TV Network is "to secure the loyalty of our members with constant introduction of the freshest content, the best in site design, and providing the most user-friendly applications to access the network's features and offers."
"With the market popularity of James Bond and Austin Powers, I had the idea of a suite of spy-themed sites all within one network," says Network CEO Steve Hutt. "[I knew that] gaming and adult sites [offer] the largest profit potential."
Acknowledging that the .tv domain is still a relatively new concept for most people, Hutt, an Ontario native, nevertheless wanted to make a bold statement. "I purchased spy.tv from someone in the U.K. for $7,000. Some would say that is extremely overpriced - I would say extremely under-priced considering it's the foundation for the whole network."
Hutt remembers building his first Website, using Front Page, in 1998. He knew he had a good idea about its design and was undaunted by his relatively limited familiarity with the software. "I spent 12 hours per page and worked for two weeks straight while on vacation from my 'real' job at that time. That was a hot summer in Canada, but the site turned out great and started my online career," Hutt says.
Once the site was completed, Hutt spent just as much time learning search engine optimization strategies. "To this day, I use AddWeb Promoter for my regular submission and search engine placement analysis," he says.
Though the adult Internet industry remains open to new concepts, for newbie Webmasters, the journey from idea to pixel is often tedious, with scant rewards over time. "I packed up my Commodore 64 computer and moved [to southern Canada] to attend college," Hutt recounts. "I enrolled in a three-year program called 'business computer systems.' It proved to be a great program because it taught me much-needed business skills and analytical computer programming and design techniques."
The servers that operate the Spy.TV Network are exclusively from Dell, and are co-located in Toronto, Canada on the Peer One Network. The primary server in the network configuration is a Dell 1650 that coordinates firewall software. "From that point, we have two Dell 2550 servers joined by a gigabit switch. We decided this configuration made the most sense because one of the 2550s is the Web server that delivers the HTML pages, and the other server is the database with all our content," Hutt says. This load-balancing strategy allows the number of Spy.TV subscribers to easily increase, and is readily adaptable when it becomes necessary to add new servers.
Most of the network's exclusive content is captured with Olympus E10 digital still cameras and Canon GL2 MiniDV camcorders. Adobe PhotoShop and Premiere help to add the final touches to the majority of the site's images.
After being welcomed to the network's "Mission Control" page, surfers are greeted by an Adonis-like mascot clad in a stark white body suit. Held securely in the icon's right hand is a suitcase (that undoubtedly holds no small amount of provocative, classified material). The launch pad to all of the Spy Network sites offers the customer "access to the hottest and sexiest women available in the world" for $39.95 per month. Because of the sheer number of services offered by the network, Hutt feels comfortable setting the sign-up fee at the higher end of the spectrum.
For starters, paid members can access 20 fetish/niche sites, including 60 gigabytes of teens, amateurs, lesbians, centerfolds, hardcore sex, and porn stars. There are picture galleries, streaming XXX videos, live shows, adult chat rooms, voyeur cams, erotic stories, adult games, and much more, all updated daily. And that's just the sex-oriented part of the network.
Spy Sports Bet allows customers to instantly check betting lines, review account activity, and place bets in real time through an easy-to-access online sports book. In addition to fantasy sports, Spy Sports Bet offers the majority of North American sports from baseball to basketball to boxing, as well as soccer lines from over 60 different countries.
There's also Spy Talk, a free, open-discussion message board that allows people to learn, ask questions, offer advice, or just lurk until their interest is aroused. The topics are moderated by section and relate to most of the Websites in the Spy.TV network.
Spy Service offers private investigation services within the U.S. and Canada, with surveillance reports and pre-marital background investigations complete with photos and/or video.
Members can also download a variety of privacy software, and purchase security and surveillance equipment.
"This is all done with a singular intent, to satisfy the surfer with a high grade of content and an exclusive experience," Hutt says.
Though the company anticipates the effect of chargebacks on its bottom line, Hutt prefers to use the recurring billing model for the site. "Members can enjoy a risk-free three-day trial for $2.95, and if they are disappointed, can cancel. As a result, automatic recurring billing each month is a simple process for our team and the customer," he says.
To this end, Spy Cash provides Web surfers the option of sharing the wealth with its Web hosting and Spy Cash Webmasters' Affiliate Program. "The Spy.TV Network is looking to build partnerships with the newbie, advanced, and savvy traffic-drivers around the Net," Hutt says.
The company's Spy Web Host was built as a strategic one-stop for domain registration, site design, e-commerce strategies, and, of course, Web hosting. Their data center provides a secure physical framework, using biometric authentication technology, video surveillance, and multiple layers of redundancy in power systems, HVAC, and fire detection and suppression. Around-the-clock security personnel also monitor the network's servers. "Our data center is engineered to eliminate any single point of failure," Hutt says.
To peg this endeavor as simply labor-intensive would ignore the fact that the entrepreneur and his investors have injected some $750,000 into the creation of the 21-site network. According to Hutt, the six-figure expenditure was dominated by the purchase of content, gaming licenses, and staffing. "I definitely learned to hire the right people by trial and error," Hutt says.
"What we're trying to do here at Spy.TV Network is reach out to the industry, reach out to the common Webmaster, and even beyond. Patience and a willingness to read and learn are a must for success - and I'm not afraid to ask the hard questions either."
The only thing missing would seem to be an oven-baked pizza delivered by a secret agent. Not to worry. Hutt says he's working on that.