The packed-house seminar, “Fast Forward: The Future of the Porn Industry,” revealed that the key components for the near future lie in the use of new delivery platforms, user interactivity, battling tube sites and plain good old customer service.
Although the revelations weren’t shocking, the consensus of the panel was that the future is bright if companies diversify in 2010 and 2011 and embrace things like mobile applications, HTML 5 streaming ability and becoming IPTV-ready among tried-and-true adult staples including enhanced user experiences and better services for customers.
A leader in the mobile arena, Pink Visual and Top Buck’s Allison Vivas said that pay sites and affiliates must do something different to keep step in the future “or they will die.” Her company has embraced mobile as a true growth market. She said 95 percent of surfers surf on mobile and that her company sees a whopping 10 million mobile hits a month.
Mobile also provides user intimacy, another advantage the technology offers, according to Vivas. She said that Pink Visual uses the iPhone and iTouch platforms, the latter for younger users. Our older iPhone customers definitely like their mobile porn better. The PC delivery platform is for kids. The adults want it more private which means more revenue,” she said.
“We’re more concerned with becoming a brand that customers recognize as unique rather just porn. Mobile works for us in that way. In 2010 it’s time for companies like ours to put our money where our mouth is and make things happen. That’s how we’ll get value in return,” Vivas said.
Hustler president Michael Klein agreed with Viva’s enthusiasm about mobile. Klein said Hustler has shown impressive mobile growth and return in Europe and South America.
“We have a robust on-deck platform for mobile in these countries where users can be billed directly from their carriers. We can’t do this yet in the U.S. but we’re working on new improvements that we’ll announce in a month or so,” Klein said.
Video Secrets President Greg Clayman noted that live streaming is not yet ready for mobile delivery but was enthusiastic about the billing capabilities phones will offer.
“We’ll see credit card readers on mobile phones which will make it a much more lucrative application for content providers as well as ease of use for customers. 2010 is the year of the customer for our company,” he said.
IPTV, or set-top boxes that will deliver porn and bypass the computer have also become futuristic buzzwords bandied about in porn predictions.
The consensus among the panel was a mixed bag, with the general feeling that there has not been any one front-runner technology or company that the major adult companies are willing to embrace.
Klein said, "We keep on top of every delivery method and IPTV has not been one that’s been successful yet. But we’re looking toward the future."
Clayman agreed and said IPTV’s distribution method is still lacking. He felt smart TV will be the next technology to take off.
Panel moderator, Alec Helmy, president of XBIZ asked if the appeal of watching porn on a big screen TV is enough to woo users away from their computers and websites.
AEBN/NakedSword CEO Tim Valenti believed that it is and said that users want to watch porn on their TVs. “The content will come directly from the sites so they’ll watch it as they would on their computers,” he said.
The continuing tube site battle is also a major concern for the health of the industry. Klein said Hustler has taken down 38,000 scenes last January and that many tube sites are losing advertising because they don’t convert. "One in 8,000 doesn't cut it. The bad sites are not unstoppable. We’ll work with sites that show two-minute clips but not ones with hour-long movies,” Klein said.
Efforts like the Free Speech Coalition’s new APAP anti-piracy program and working with legitimate tube sites that share revenue are also solutions. Clayman said a tube site must provide their business in writing and show that they’re 2257 compliant.
Of course pleasing the user is always the key. The panel pointed to Nintendo “Wii-like” experiences, HTML5 streaming (without required plugins) augmented reality, 3D movies and technology like RealTouch as examples of user interactivity that will bolster their future plans.
One area that is not so sexy, but probably one of the most important factors in the future success and acceptance of adult content is child protection.
Panelist Joan Irvine, CEO of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) maintained that the future of porn relies heavily on compliance of age-related content. She said the lines between mainstream and adult are blurring but there is still a barrier to be broken down so that adult is accepted.
Irvine said ASACP is now embarking on an international awareness program. “Porn is still porn. And we must continue to comply and show our diligence. Governments won’t do it. It’s up to us,” she said.