Holding Up A Mirror:

It’s pretty much official now, despite all the living in denial for the last year or so porners are actually admitting that theres a problem. Steve Orenstein at Wicked has said it, so has Steve Hirsch at Vivid, LFP everyone now admits it, we are in a slump and sliding badly.  Big companies are laying off people, shutting down operations and/or scaling back releases and productions.  The bubble has burst.

Everyone has a favorite scapegoat, the internet, piracy, legal issues yada yada.

To understand what to do you have to first understand how we got here.  With the advent of the VCR people no longer had to leave their homes to watch porn, a market was born practically over night, making porn was expensive though. Quality cameras weren’t cheap, editing equipment wasn’t cheap, it required knowledge and skill. And people, couldn’t get enough porn.

The industry was set to grow, it simply couldn’t fail.

Technology and computers were taking over everything and in a short time cameras were exponentially more capable, higher quality and cheaper. And with the advent of the under five thousand dollar Sony VX3  professional quality was now in reach of maverick film makers.  Editing bays were still cost prohibitive, but every company had one and the demand for product was sky high so shooters were starting to shoot product and send it to the respective companies for editing and porn ramped up production yet again.

By the Mid nineties the next generation “pro sumer” cameras hit and they were digital, ten fold the quality of even the hi 8 cameras and even more capable in terms of auto exposure and focus, and still in the sub 5 K price range, and again porn valley ramped up production to meet demand. by now anyone who could hold a camera and point it at the action was considered a Director; talent and skill had no place here, it was a grind mill, get it out as fast as possible to satisfy the growing demand.

The industry was releasing 1000 new releases a month, piracy was limited to the illegal dubbing of video tapes, generating a poorer quality copy.  Not that there was any quality there to begin with. Porners started cutting prices at a time when demand was highest, strong armed by distributors hungry to improve margins.

Then out of nowhere popped up this little thing called the World Wide Web and you talk about a medium MADE for porn, this was it. You didn’t even have to leave your house. Pornsites popped up over night and just about anyone with knowledge of HTML and some content was making serious cash, pictures of people fucking were worth a pile of money, and guess who had these pictures?  Porn Companies. Suddenly people were scanning pictures from adult magazines and creating websites, they were using promotional materials, anything they could get their hands on and all these porners with all this content were letting it get away from them, they didn’t see the train coming, the internet wasn’t a threat, they were making money as fast as they could release the next video.

People downloading pictures wasn’t a big deal, hardly worth dragging a lawyer into it after all their stock in trade was VHS and DVD, you couldnt get quality video over a 1200 baud internet connection, or even a 2400 baud one.

There was nothing to worry about.

This internet thing was catching on though and people were wanting faster and faster access, suddenly even 56KB wasnt fast enough. Enter technology again. Here comes DSL and Cable, soon lots and lots of people had access to internet connections that were very fast, fast enough to download high quality video clips and video compression technology was getting good enough to cut the size of the file down to 25% of its original size and still leave it undetectable to the human eye. After all the TV then was an appallingly poor 525×320 resolution (roughly)

Soon adult sites were adding decent quality video to their offerings and the public ate them up.

And porners were releasing videos at the rate of about 20 per day, and at margins  that were paper thin. VHS went away and DVD became king.

Editing bays were cheap, anyone with a 600 dollar home computer could now become an editor and a director, and anyone did.

While the quality of the image got exponentially better, the skill of the director became non existent, it wasn’t about who could produce the best product, it was about who could produce the cheapest product and porn fell into an abyss, almost void of anything that could remotely be considered talent.

Soon internet connections got even faster, pushing into ranges nobody expected and programs that could copy a DVD and break it down into a bunch of smaller files popped up and it didnt take long before you could download and burn a perfect copy of a DVD in less time than it takes to drive to the porn store and buy it.  Torrent sites were popping up everywhere, but they had a downside, they were notorious for spreading viruses, and spyware, they were resource hogs, and difficult to set up. But quietly a very old (older than the world wide web) concept was enjoying a resurgence. Usenet was becoming the defacto repository for pirated porn, music, mainstream movies, programs, you name it.  There were no ratios, no centralization, no governing authority, it was pure anarchy, anyone could post anything and anyone could download the posts. It didn’t take long and you were seeing full quality DVDs appearing the same day they were released, mainstream movies and porn and piracy, got rampant, because now you didn’t even have to buy the DVD to make a perfect copy of it, print near identical DVD covers and replicate and sell it for less than the manufacturer could.

By and large porn didn’t notice, most people were not even tech savvy enough to diversify to the web much less understand usenet, and to this day most porners still don’t, despite the fact that the same day DP releases the Blu Ray version of Pirates II I would be able to download it for free in full bluray quality, menus and all, in just a few hours.

Tubesites began to pop up and in the middle of slumping sales porn vally started to take notice of the internet and the damage that its was doing to their bottom line. And tube sites were easy, they didnt require an special knowledge, they didnt require any special software and there was lots of porn for free.  Not porn made and submitted by so called users, but porn made in porn valley. Suddenly it hit home.

So lets look back here at what happened.

There was a rapidly growing demand for our product, we raced to fill it, and when we filled it we kept increasing output, to the point that the market plit into vertical markets, no longer was generic porn viable, there was so much of it that the consumer could satisfy his fetish by renting titles that were specifically shot for his likes. Those niches further branched into micro niches we simply had too much product, supply had far outstripped demand. But we were like a locomotive heading full speed, we didn’t see the curve coming and we didn’t slow down, talent rates skyrocketed even though there was a huge glut of talent, we kept producing product with no concern at all about the quality of the product, after all it was cheap and the public was buying it we never saw the slow down coming, even though a lot of knowledgeable people were saying…hey  something is wrong here. Most importantly we never took took the steps to protect our property and our market until it was too late. Its like theives took everything in our house and we didn’t notice it was gone for a year, and by then there was no getting it back.

The preferred delivery method for porn is no longer the local video store.  It is the internet. So when you look at your declining sales, look back at your catalog and ask yourself, was I delivering quality product or was I making money as fast as possible with as little investment as possible.  Remember years ago when people were saying that our industry’s worst enemy was an educated consumer?  Guess what? The consumer got educated, and Porn Valley is in the throes of a very rude awakening.

22310cookie-checkHolding Up A Mirror:

Holding Up A Mirror:

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2 Responses

  1. Great rundown of the economic madness that is the current porn market.

    One thing that I would add is that the price structures on websites often encourage piracy. For example, there are a lot of sites that allow both streaming and downloading. They charge a per minute fee to stream and a flat fee to download. As a result, on a per video basis, the cost to download a complete version of a video is a fraction of the streaming costs.

    I’m sure that the rationale behind this pricing structure is that users will pay more for the instant gratification (bad pun, sorry) of streaming. The side-effect of this pricing, however, is that it encourages people to download files (which allows easy copying and distribution) instead of stream (which is difficult to capture, copy, and redistribute).

    I think that part of the solution to this problem is going to be the creation of a distribution system that (1) allows easy delivery of content to televisions rather than computers and (2) allows users to pay for scenes rather than entire videos at a reasonable price.

    Oh yeah, making fewer, better scenes with performers who are actually enthusiastic and appealing would be a nice touch, too.

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