IPTV Poised to Redefine Adult Content Delivery

Devan Cypher
While the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray was far from over, Warner Bros.' defection from HD DVD and adult's embrace of the Blu-ray format signaled an end to the Toshiba-backed medium and a new era for high-definition viewing. A relatively new contender on the scene is IPTV.

With a single click on a remote, a movie, or other video content, can be loaded directly onto the consumer's TV usually via a set top box, allowing for video-on-demand, a service that Blu-ray cannot offer. No drive to the video store, no waiting for packages to arrive in the mail, and most importantly, no expensive equipment to purchase and set up, for the most part. In fact most IPTV systems operate off a relatively inexpensive set top box that either plugs into your TV or wireless router on newer models.

According to recent reports, phone companies all around the world offering IPTV are expected to see an increase in subscribers by as much as 32 percent by 2014. Despite experts insisting that satellite and cable TV platforms will likely continue to dominate as the heavyweight in most markets, new IPTV services that provide interactive TV are expected to explode to nearly 79 million subscribers over the next five years by some estimates, making it the fastest-growing content delivery system on the planet.

A growing number of telephone providers are now utilizing IP technology to provide competitive TV services that rival well-established satellite and cable operators. One of the benefits of IPTV most often touted is its ability to streamline service subscription, rendering it most cost effective to subscribers — and less cumbersome — than established TV alternatives.

In America, AT&T is the largest phone company to use the technology to offer TV services. Verizon Communications uses a combination of IPTV technology and traditional cable and broadcast technology to deliver its Fios TV service.

Dueling to be first, best
In the ever-evolving arena of adult entertainment, several competitors have bitterly dueled to be the first to bring IPTV as a unique service to market independent of other providers. The current champion, FyreTV, reportedly had the largest exhibition space of any company at this year's Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. There they unveiled their latest innovation — a revolutionary new wireless IPTV set-top controller. At half the size of the previous model, the BoXXX is being marketed as a more discrete option better suited to use in the bedroom according to Fyre spokesman David Jones.

The company claims that the production of wireless units came about after studies with its current 10,000 customers revealed that most users have broadband access in their living rooms or offices.

The company's content library is daunting, with thousands of adult movies all arranged in an easily searchable database, virtually placing a full adult video store at the user's fingertips and all but eliminating the need to leave the house. Discriminating viewers of adult fare can make their selections using a variety of criteria, choosing from their favorite adult star or studio, as well as by title, series or sex act. For those so inclined there is even an option to select scenes by body type, hair color, or bust size.

Monthly subscription charges start at $9.95, which doesn't include selective studio packages that range from $6.99 to $39.99 depending on the content house and the number of movies made available. Already FyreTV has locked distribution agreements with dozens of studios, including high-end powerhouses such as Adam & Eve Pictures, Wicked Pictures, and Vivid Entertainment as well as traditionally harder content providers including Evil Angel, JM Productions, Zero Tolerance and West Coast Productions.

Reaction to the technology is strikingly similar amongst adult company owners, leaning towards embracing the new, whether they understand it or not. Still the question of what benefits, if any, using IPTV as a means of content delivery will have over existing methods and how it will influence the way producers create adult viewing materials continues to elicit divisive responses.

Bush League Media's Brett Reisner, a partner in Tru Filth, a company committed to Blu-ray niche releases, believes it's just another means of reaching fans, and one that he wants to get in on now.

"I think the future of this biz, as we all know, is in these types of emerging technologies that can merge the television and the computer in a way that will eliminate the need for external products such as DVDs or cases that need to be stored," Reisner said. "It's convenient and fast."

Ty Gonty from HellHouse Media, a company that prides itself on being platform- and tech-friendly, offers comparable sentiments.

"IPTV provides a simple and efficient delivery platform and also helps expose our product to a new audience," Gonty mused. "A lot of sales in our industry come from the typical impulse buyer, and IPTV helps put content in front of that type of buyer with an easy-to-use interface. I expect IPTV to become a dominant delivery method over the next few years, especially as more and more manufacturing companies install IPTV and Wi-Fi into their TV sets and media devices."

Studios like Smash Pictures see great potential in IPTV's customizable search options.

"IPTV is a unique system for viewing adult material," said Stuart Wall, vice president of Smash Pictures. "We feel FyreTV will lead this market due to their unique metatag settings. Say somebody wasn't familiar with Smash Pictures but did a search on girls with glasses or creampies — our scenes would appear. This then opens the doors for the viewer to become a fan of our studio's content. Plus with IPTV, the viewer doesn't need to leave his home. By using the box and a credit card he has a wide selection of porn in his hands. We are excited by all the possibilities this new technology brings with it."

Peter Reynolds of Plaid Bag Media doubts that much if anything will change.

"I don't believe that there is different criteria for shooting content aimed at IPTV," he said. "The only consistent criteria is quality content. Don't cut corners. Shoot the best quality content you can and that is the only criteria I see as being a necessity. It's not the platform necessarily, it's just up to the producer to make sure that they are raising the bar and making the best quality they can. That may sound generic but I really believe that."

Graham Travis from Elegant Angel remarks on how his company feels IPTV allows them to reach a more expansive audience.

"The benefit of IPTV is that it broadens the adult consumer base, and provides consumers with a wide ranging selection of titles from the comfort of their own home," Travis said. "With the impressive marketing efforts of FyreTV and Vudu, new audiences are being exposed to the adult marketplace, which is very exciting for Elegant Angel."

He echoes the sentiments of the industry as a whole, suggesting very little will actually change in the way of how prurient material is produced.

"As for influencing the way we create adult viewing materials, I think the same principles apply to IPTV as any other methods of content delivery. We must always remain dedicated to producing innovative, creative and perverted hardcore content. That's what the customers want to see."

Farley Cahen from adult powerhouse Digital Playground agrees.

"We aren't changing our production for IPTV," he explained. "We produce very feature-driven movies which is really what a lot of people want on a big screen. We believe that our customers want to watch full-length movies with a story line, something the couples can watch in bed where as over the Internet it's a lot more cut up, guys getting in and out. We aren't going to change anything we are doing right now. We are going to continue to produce high grade content because that's what differentiates us from everybody else."

Christian Mann extols the virtues of using broadband on behalf of Evil Angel, a company whose reputation has been forged in catering to the wants and desires of its big fan base.

"The only thing that's changed on our end isn't in the movies, aside from the focus on hi-def, but in how we create and deliver marketing materials," Mann explained. "Meta-data is crucial. In many cases we create alternate cover art that takes into account the size of a cover when it's one of 20 images on a 17-inch to 24-inch screen, so we want one large image in lieu of several smaller ones on the same cover. Evil Angel directors count on the company to adapt to tech changes, but the content itself can't be compromised for the sake of any one platform."

3rd Degree President Joey Wilson believes in following consumer trends. He regards IPTV as one of the hottest and most lucrative trends hitting the market today.

"It's becoming obvious that more and more homes are becoming integrated regarding communications and entertainment in the home," Wilson said. "Systems like Verizon's Fios and AT&T's U-verse are introducing IPTV to the consumer."

Wilson, who partnered with Zero Tolerance at his company's inception, sees greater opportunities afforded through embracing emerging technologies.

"The fact is that multitasking of communications and the possibility of multiple recording of programs simultaneously is a great advantage compared to broadcast as it is today," he continues. "Its influence on the producer may be just the simple fact that the consumer will have more immediate control. The capabilities of picking and choosing who, what and how much of any given person, place or thing they want to see. Therefore we as producers may look to create more variety in shorter, more vignette style scenarios, as opposed to whole scripted movies."

Like other adult company owners trying to survive in this competitively harsh economic environment, Wilson sees IPTV less as the wave of the future and more as an eventuality that must be dealt with now.

"We certainly have evolved into a society of convenience and [are] seemingly very impatient. High-speed communications has put us all in a 'high speed mode.' I'm not saying it's good or bad; it's just the way it is. I guess we'll just have to keep up."

Still, despite early enthusiasm for the content delivery system of tomorrow, even the most optimistic advocates remain staunchly skeptical.

"I'm not sure if the set-top box model will survive convergence," Evil Angel's Mann said. "IPTV should have a future as long as consumers can subscribe to a library of content from a source that they trust, delivered with a quality that's commensurate to the best DVD or VOD picture stream available."