Can New Forms of Media Distribution Save Porn?

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Porn is all about instant gratification. A business reliant on bringing its customers the goods fast, this industry has always had a history of being on the forefront of new technologies as they emerge for better products and faster distribution. Revolutionizing porn and how its enjoyed with the adoption of the VHS home video, the porn industry grew from a seedy underground sex scene into a $10 billion dollar a year business. Nowadays, the very same industry that once helped mainstream VHS win the battle against Betamax in the 70s and 80s, is facing the problem of staying relevant in today’s “I need it NOW” society. Porn, one of the earliest adopters of e-commerce and Internet broadcasting, is being threatened by the very instant gratification that has made it so profitable. Torrents and free video sites have seriously threatened the porn industry’s business model. Now anyone with a web cam and computer can be a porn star on the Internet. Are people willing to pay for porn anymore? What is the porn industry doing to set themselves apart from all the amateur porn makers out there? Looking towards future tech like mobile streaming, smart phone apps, and instant downloads to VOD systems, porn leaders are changing their business model in an attempt to stay relevant and profitable.

Sony’s Betamax video format was introduced in 1975, to be followed by JVC’s VHS a year later. Arguably a better video format, Betamax never took off much in part thanks to the porn industry’s involvement with the distribution and sale of VHS videotapes. It was said that porn was scarcely available on Betamax, possibly because of Sony’s stance against its production. On the other hand, porn was readily available on VHS because it was a cheaper medium for distribution, ultimately helping VHS win the battle over betamax in late 1980s. Offering consumers affordable movies to rent and movies to own, VHS helped build porn into a $10 billion dollar industry, and it made porn an at-home experience rather than forcing the consumer to visit a strip club, peep show, or adult movie theater. Enter the Internet and e-commerce in 1995, and the low-cost DVD in 2001, porn was becoming cheaper, more available, and easier to duplicate. File sharing became common place and the very technology that had made porn available to the masses both online and for rent threatened to take down the entire industry. Another threat that arose was the celebrity standard: the homemade sex tape. In a world where anyone can make a porno or be a porn star (re: Paris Hilton, Carrie Prejean, Pamela Anderson), how can porn as an industry compete? Porn producers have been forced to adopt higher production value and find new ways to reach their audience aside from the standard pay-per view or DVD model.

One new frontier in their quest for profitability is HD video. Consumers love seeing their favorite porn stars in HD because it makes them feel like they’re a part of the action more than ever before. Porn stars on the other hand? Not so much. Time to bust out the HD makeup. The same porn actresses that made seedy sexy, are being held to a higher Hollywood standard now that they’re in HD. Aside from new makeup, lighting, and post production techniques, porn directors like “Joone” are giving porn stars tips to stay HD ready, “I tell the girls to work out more, cut down on the carbs, hit the treadmill.” In an industry that made bleach blond, super tan, and “realistic” action from every angle the norm, could porn become more like a Hollywood film? Does this mean the end of hardcore as we know it with a movement towards over produced soft core style hardcore scenes in an attempt to set themselves apart from the amateur porn film makers? Aside from that – higher production costs also mean that porn is going to get pricey and no one wants to pay for pricey adult entertainment when you can get a fix for free online.

Aside from pursuing HD and better production value, porn makers are looking for new ways to monetize their product. One way they’re doing this is by jumping on the Video on Demand trend. Video on Demand is not new when it comes to porn, but it is becoming more athe norm when it comes to renting and viewing adult content movies online and on your TV. Creating online adult channels through VOD systems like Vudu, porn makers are breaking into VOD for instant distribution. Although, porn has not been fully integrated into the VOD scene. Companies like Sony aim to bar porn’s entry into VOD markets especially when it comes to Playstation 3. Aside from VOD, porn producers are looking to cash in on smartphones, iPhones, iPod Touch, and game consoles that can stream media or download media. Catering to the mobile phone industry are prepackaged micro SD cards that store porn to be viewed on any smart phone or computer. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook have also revolutionized the conversation around porn. Once a dirty secret, Twitter users such as @AdultNewsWire aggregate porn news and spit it out to their list of followers to create an actual conversation around porn and its lovers. There are also the hard-to-find adult video games that always aim to titillate an adult gamer like Bonetown for instance, which featured a cameo by larger than life porn legend Ron Jeremy. Once an industry that had enough power to sway an entire nation towards VHS technology, the porn industry is now struggling to stay in front of new technological trends. Some may argue that technology has grown too big for the porn industry. But is the produced porn industry relevant when there is so much porn available online for free? The majority of us don’t really pay for porn anymore. If I wanna watch porn, I am probably going to go to a free site like RedTube or YouPorn for my fix. But then again I’m not too picky. However, the less technologically savvy or more old school consumer who are more willing to pay for their porn, will play a big part in keeping the porn industry alive. But between the new way and old way of getting your fix, as long as porn production companies stay ahead of the curve (no pun intended) with new distribution and sharing trends that keep these companies relevant in how entertainment is enjoyed, then porn as an industry will be just fine.


Guest columnist Lydia Leavitt writes about sex and, oddly enough, social media. For more information on the latest intimate technology, check out 69adget.com.

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