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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Is Porn Industry an Indicator of How Quickly Mainstream Movies Will Go Digital?

That's the question I had reading this piece on the front of USA Today's business section. (Yes, I'm in a hotel.)

The "adult content" industry is seeing DVD sales plummet because of free and paid content on the Net. From Jon Swartz's piece:

    Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid, one of the world's top adult film producers, predicts DVD sales will largely be replaced by content sold on the Internet. Three years ago, 80% of its revenue came from DVD sales. Now, it's 40%, he says.

    "DVDs are dead," says Extreme CEO Rob Black. "The Web is where things are happening." The company is selling video clips on its website before they go to DVD.

I wonder if the major studios are ready for that kind of quick shift in viewing habits -- and whether they're thinking about using lots of free content to rope viewers into subscriptions and paid downloads, as the adult industry is doing.

(And if you want to read more about the impact of the Net on the porn industry, the venerable New York Times ran a piece earlier this week, which noted that "Internet revenue, while growing modestly, is not compensating for the drop in video sales and rentals.")

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7 Comments:

  • yeah, but the porn industry is home entertainment for a reason - you don't see folks watching erotic content in the theaters very often.

    Porn content is also more appropriate for computer based viewing. Enough said there.

    Thinking back to the NYTimes piece you'd linked to previously, discussing giving away content to get paying customers, porn faces a rather unique challenge - for most entertainment, the definition of "entertained enough" has a very fuzzy boundary.

    With porn, there is a, shall we say, a clearly defined metric of "entertained enough by porn" - a metric of success.

    By Blogger Mike Curtis, at 3:03 PM  

  • Like Mike, I think there's a difference: mainstream movies are for watching with others, while porn is (usually) for watching alone. Also, porn doesn't necessarily require story, so short-form adult content can more readily take the place of full length DVDs.

    But it may still be an indicator that movies will go online. I'm not a huge moviegoer myself, and don't watch much TV, but I'm getting hooked on some online shows. Full length features is a natural progression, if only for convenience and breadth of selection. I prefer to buy downloadable music and only go searching for CDs when I can't find what I want as a DRM-free download. Likewise, as my broadband speed goes up, you'll have better luck selling me a downloadable movie than a DVD that I have to find in a shop, or order and wait for delivery.

    By Blogger Gemsling, at 12:08 AM  

  • Scott, re your question about the studios: They're just testing the waters with movie downloading so far. They don't begin to trust it or grasp the implications. Watch them stumble around with high-def and its stupid format war. I covered the industry for years and can report that they're astoundingly tech-dumb at the top.

    As the NYT reported earlier this year, there remain serious consumer satisfaction issues with movie downloads. (Most people were unable to program their VCRs dept.) My feeling is movie downloads will remain geekish for another 5 years, maybe longer. Too many variables with too many computers when giant files are engaged. It needs some kind of killer ap.

    As usual, porn will lead the way.

    Soon enough, it'll all flow through home media servers.

    (DVD Spin Doctor)

    By Blogger Glenn Abel, at 8:55 PM  

  • I agree that porn consuming is different than other types of content - so we will see the same trend in other content type - just much slower. I've linked this article to my blog.
    Kfir Pravda pravdam.wordpress.com

    By Blogger Kfir Pravda, at 8:40 AM  

  • It's tough to apply the experience of the porn industry to mainstream movies. The main difference is between long form and short form content. Long form (70+ minutes) is a different user experience. I might watch a 22 minute episode of The Office on my computer, but not a 90 minute movie (unless I'm forced to, hotel, airplane, etc.)

    Consumers are slow to change. One of the top uses of the Internet is still checking the weather.

    Lyle IndieProd.Org

    By Blogger Lyle, at 7:05 PM  

  • By Blogger nothing, at 6:56 PM  

  • By Blogger Lorraine, at 5:18 AM  

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