As video download services become more common -- helped along in Australia by
the belated arrival of something resembling a decent broadband speed for most
users -- it stands to reason that they might want to see how well the porn
industry has done in this space.
The answer to that question is somewhat surprising. Rather than aiming to
download high-quality movies either permanently or temporarily, it seems that
the majority of adult viewers are quite happy with short spurts of viewing,
using relatively low-resolution streaming protocols.
Richard Cohen: likes the long tail effect"98% of the business is streaming,"
said Richard Cohen, CEO of Hotmovies.com, a prominent pay-per-minute adult site
network which charges its customers US 10 cents per minute to watch the skin
flick of their choice. Apparently, it's a fairly quick process.
"Customers do not want to watch entire movies," Cohen said. "They want to watch
scenes. They might watch a scene once or twice, then they move on - but they
come back to the site over and over again."
Of course, there's a critical difference here which we'll try and elucidate
tastefully. With rare exceptions (for which medical treatment is now
available), most porn viewers don't want to watch an adult movie in its
entirety, since their functional purpose is unlikely to stretch to 90 minutes
or more. With rare exceptions (Battlefield Earth springs to mind), most
mainstream viewers do want to watch movies in their entirety. Nonetheless, the
trend seems worth noting.
According to Cohen, porn is a particularly transient business. "They don't want
to own it, they don't want to see it more than once," he told a seminar on
delivery technologies at last week's Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. "A
lot of them don't want it on their hard drive, if they're doing it at home."
That might explain why permanent options don't seem popular with porn
consumers. "We have iPod downloads, but they don't really sell," Cohen said.
The same applies to Amazon-style sell-through schemes. "We have links on
thousands of titles saying 'buy this movie' and it's unbelievable how little
people click on them. And download-to-own is the same. People don't use it."
Indeed, some people go to extraordinary lengths to protect their anonymity. "We
get a lot of money orders from people who won't want it on their credit cards,"
Cohen said. Other options have been explored: "For a while, we went through
PayPal, which was really a good thing, but they threw us out -- twice." (PayPal
has a strict no-adult-content policy.)
Those who don't want to be anonymous may well be cheapskates. According to a
recent NPD Group study, 60% of the content on file sharing networks is porn
In either scenario, the pay-per-minute adult business also provides an
interesting example of the much-discussed long tail effect. "Every night,
there's at least 38,000 of our 60,000 videos that are watched for at least 20
seconds," Cohen said. "I couldn't believe that at first, but I got our
programmers to check."
It seems one man's meat is indeed another man's meat market. "We have studios
where they film it all in their basement, and people still want to watch it."
Cohen predicts a rapid demise for 'conventional' adult sites which aim to
achieve a recurring monthly subscription for a particular set of content.
"Membership sites for adult content are dying," Cohen said. "The consumer is
sick and tired of having to pay every month. We get so many emails from people
saying 'Please cancel', and we have to send a mail saying 'There's nothing to
He concedes more competition is likely if that happens, but doesn't seem
worried. "It's like Las Vegas: they keep building more hotels, and people keep
coming. Pay-per-minute is going to grow the entire market."