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The Public World of Private

The Public World of Private

May 19, 2008
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" DVDs are a declining business globally given the rapid expansion of the Internet and other digital content delivery platforms. "

Private Media Group is such a major player in the international DVD market it would be easy to assume the company has been putting out adult videos since the VCR. But it wasn’t until 1992 that the company released its first videos with the Private Video Magazine series. Today it claims to own the “largest archive of high quality adult content in the world,” which now includes nearly 1,200 titles.

The company has been trading in adult fare since founder Berth Milton Sr. published what is believed to be the world’s first full-color hardcore adult publication, Private, in 1965. After decades of successful publishing, his son, Berth Milton Jr., took over the company in 1991 and the rapid expansion was on. Today the company is publicly held, traded on Nasdaq (the first adult entertainment company to do so), and has its hands in everything from reality television and websites to gentlemen’s clubs and energy drinks.

As the DVD market fades, Private has long since diversified in an effort to stay ahead of the curve. Industry professionals know that Private is not a company to dabble. One only has to look back to the costume drama “Private Gladiator” in 2003, which the company’s corporate website still claims was the “biggest budget adult entertainment movie ever,” with expenses reportedly in the $1 million to $2 million range. The following year’s “Millionaire” is said to have had a budget of $1.9 million. While numbers like that are a thing of the past for Private or any other company, Private does claim to have sold a ridiculous 350,000 copies of “Gladiator.”

While Private Chief Operating Officer Peter Cohen won’t go into budgetary specifics, he is willing to concede that the DVD business is winding down, though be believes it won’t die off completely.

‘DVDs are a declining business globally given the rapid expansion of the Internet and other digital content delivery platforms,” he said. “However, we don’t feel that they will ever completely disappear from the market. We believe that there will be less volume and margin in this part of the business over time, and we are aggressively developing our new media strategies to take advantage of what we believe the long term future growth opportunities will be in adult entertainment.”

Many believe that video-on-demand and similar platforms signal the end of the feature. At least so far, the trend on the Internet has been one of instant gratification, not one where viewers are sitting down for two hours to watch big budget features. This is proving even truer with mobile platforms.

“We feel this really depends on the delivery platform,” Cohen said. “Some, like mobile, will favor shorter form content, and others like VOD/IPTV will serve both long and short form content equally well. Our goal is to adapt and customize our productions to suit the needs and tastes of consumers on each new media platform.

“We also still do everything possible to maximize our linear businesses with DVDs and magazines. The future is in new media content delivery, and we are at the forefront of distribution on these platforms today.”

There aren’t many companies in the adult realm that don’t long for mainstream success, and Private is one of the few that has made a big splash in the reality entertainment world. Their foray in 2004 with Private Stars on British television, which housed female sex stars with male wannabe porn stars, was so popular that three more series were built on its success.

‘Private Stars is part of an overall strategy of the company to increase our development into more mainstream content production,” Cohen said. “It serves as an expansion of our business model, as well as an effective way to increase our brand awareness and exposure.”

To that end, Private signed Boroka as an exclusive contract star in February. She is the company’s first “sexclusive” since Priva.

In recent years Private teamed with Portland Enterprises to launch two pay TV channels that will reach more than 2 million homes in the U.K. and Ireland. And in an “only in Europe” move, the company joined forces with Beate Uhse to launch the world’s first duty free adult retail outlet at Munich International Airport.

It is this expansive vision that has made the company one of the most powerful adult brands in the world and, Cohen and the rest of the Private team hope, will continue to propel them forward as the industry faces its biggest changes in decades.

“We want to continue to grow our new media content distribution internationally,” he said, “to expand our productions into mainstream as well as adult genres, establish our licensing business into a broad range of consumer product lines, and maintain our leadership role within the adult entertainment industry.”


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