New Twist in Distro Wars

JC Adams
The DVD vs. online wars in gay adult took an intriguing turn when popular performer Jesse Santana announced he was signing as a “web-only” exclusive paysite CockyBoys.com, thereby abandoning the DVD market.

“This is the first time a major star such as Jesse has left DVDs for online,” the company claimed in its press release announcing the deal.

Santana had until recently worked as a co-exclusive with Jet Set Productions and CockyBoys; upon the expiration of his year-long contract with Jet Set, he made the decision to sign exclusively with CockyBoys.

He has anchored recent critical and commercial hits “On Fire!,” “Just Add Water” and “Jet Set Fraternity Gang Bang 2,” among others, and earned multiple industry kudos including eight GAVN Awards nominations (and one win).

In a statement, Santana said he considered signing with other traditional-media companies, but would balk when they demanded he give up his Internet contract. He claims “the real turning point for me was a discussion with a bunch of my friends over what to do. A friend of mine said, ‘When’s the last time anyone of our generation bought a DVD?’ I know it’s a major career decision, but CockyBoys is very forward thinking and good to their models.”

CockyBoys CEO Kyle Majors calls Santana’s transition to web-only exclusivity “the single most important endorsement we’ve received” and claims Santana was “under a lot of pressure from different angles. To have Jesse shooting only for us says a lot about how we treat our models and where we are headed.”

In an interview with XBIZ, Majors said he wouldn’t object if a Santana asked to film outside his contract.

“If Jesse finds a DVD project that he has his heart set on, we would let him do it. We always try to be respectful of each model’s career aspirations. It’s all about the models,” he says. “They’re the key to our success.”

He doesn’t agree that Santana, whose career is sizzling right now, may have cut out a large chunk of his potential customer base by restricting his appearances to a computer screen.

“That’s an interesting question. DVD companies stilll get more gay press and certainly continue to dominate the industry awards shows. In terms of actual eyeballs, though, I would guess more people are accessing the web than DVDs in any given day,” Majors speculated.

Majors also believes a web-only model offers Santana the opportunity to stretch as a performer, as well as allowing him to film “more scenes across a broader release schedule, so his fans actually will see more of him.”

CockyBoys has approached other models about following Santana into a web-exclusive contract. And it’s not just performers who have taken such a step. Veteran helmer Jim Steel has found success [not to mention steady employment in this period of market contraction] steering NaughtyAmerica.com’s Suite 703 and their other web-only ventures.

Another award-winning director told XBIZ he will no longer produce DVDs from 2010 onward, and will instead focus on Internet content (he asked not to be identified to avoid potential conflicts with his current brick-and-mortar distributor).

Given the adult industry’s traditional reputation as early adopters of technology, it is certainly puzzling that gay adult studios now find themselves potentially outpaced by web-based upstarts like CockyBoys.

“I honestly don’t understand it,” Majors says.

He likens the current situation to sinking compact disc sales. “The music companies got very attached to CD album money. Online sales channels were a threat to the CD gravy train. By the time the music guys realized the potential of online [sales and marketing], they were in revenue conservation mode as CD sales began to slip.

“So the idea of gambling on the web in the face of market contraction was too great a risk to the bottom line,” Majors said. “They had on golden handcuffs. Something similar is happening in the adult DVD [market].”

Find Jesse Santana online at CockyBoys.com.

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