FEED Issue 15

23 ADULT CONTENT The Business Of Porn T sin ss o

the survey, which has generated insightful reports on topics such as bisexuality, religion and, in the UK, age verification. The site has also had to ensure compliance with the EU’s new GDPR data regulations to ensure that its users can easily access any information the site holds on them. Other areas of compliance may prove more challenging. In the past, tube sites like XHamster and Pornhub have had some protection from a ‘safe harbour’ in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which assumes that platforms are not aware of pirated content that a user has generated. The big adult tube sites have boomed over the last ten years because as soon as one takedown notice is issued, another illegal copy is uploaded, making pirated content almost impossible to police effectively. However, the EU’s forthcoming Digital Copyright Directive aims to make user generated platforms liable for any copyright infringed content. “This is fresh and it will affect us so we’re examining the various options on how to comply,” Hawkins acknowledges. TRAFFIC Tube sites like Pornhub and XHamster have to cope with some of the highest internet traffic in the world, greater than some major news organisations. And Pornhub’s massive traffic spiked a further 5% in the beginning of this year, an increase widely attributed to the idle hands produced by the US government shutdown. How all this traffic is managed, however, is a subject XHamster’s Hawkins remains coy about, as if revealing such information would be like giving away a trade secret. The standard approach, Hawkins says, has been to “expand channels and increase the servers” for its high load projects. While the firm has its own storage system, XHamster won’t disclose details except to say that CDNs are “widely used” and that the firm has started to apply “even more technologies” around them. Cloud technology services are also deployed, although Hawkins declines to name which ones, due to “the risk of exposing third parties”. PORN ALL AROUND YOU Whether VR porn will turn out to be another key differentiator for XHamster is too early to call, according to Hawkins. “For us it’s mostly about 180 ° VR, as a user is usually focused on the screen’s centre. As it grows, we may see the need

to introduce 360, but at this point with adult, it’s still a niche within a niche,” he says. He says the site would also like developers to solve issues that have prevented VR’s mass expansion, such as the VR-support limitation of iOS based devices. XHamster’s early forays with tech have been promising however. The site launched its first VR cams on XHamsterLive earlier this year, allowing users to dive into the world of VR with a model of their choice. VR’s immersive qualities led to one viewer session lasting for six hours. “Stories like that show real promise for the product,“ he says. Another category that has started to take off in recent months, he reports, has been 4K video, with content marked in the site’s upper left corner and the search team currently working on a ‘4K’ option. models around advertising so the notion of charging for content (other than tips for cam models) seems antiquated, but more and more sites are now starting to explore other monetisation options. XHamster’s offering is built around the base success that it has had with its amateur user uploads. XHamster Premium is a separate direct monetisation platform for both amateur producers and studios to sell content directly to fans. For XHamster, says Hawkins, it offers added value to the site’s community. “We work directly with content providers and invite them to collaborate and monetise their content. This allows us to bring new stuff to our users daily, and to focus on community enhancing tools, like dating and private messaging,” he says. PREMIUM Most tube sites base their business

It’s also an opportunity for some of the larger studios to try and capture – or recapture - the site’s large audience for their own productions and brands, he adds. “In the past, their only real option was to do that by advertising. Now, they have a way to sell directly to the consumer,” he says. And while the site isn’t planning on implementing blockchain anytime soon (“It’s unclear how the industry will benefit,” says Hawkins) the VP reveals that the site is currently working on an internal currency for its users so that it can reward them for activity on the website and their efforts spent on the community. THE NICHE PLAYER: KINK.COM It’s been two years since BDSM site Kink.com closed the production facilities it housed in San Francisco’s castle-like Armory building. At the time many hailed it the end of an era. As an online producer/distributor, Kink produced 8000 bondage films in over a decade at its in-house facility, but, as the company’s revenue’s plunged by 50% between 2013 and 2016 it was forced to explore new models. Kink’s first move was to sell the building and allow its directors to set up their own companies in less

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