The live interactive webcam arena is one of adult entertainment’s strongest market segments today — but despite its appeal and profitability, challenges for operators remain.
For example, American live cam companies are seeing an ongoing increase in both their customers and performers coming from Europe — and from Latin America and beyond — adding cultural, language and regulatory concerns to the mix. But these factors are balanced by the opportunities for extending brands and fan bases to the lucrative Euro audience; which requires specific billing mechanisms, content types, and performer personalities to properly monetize.
Typically the language barrier is an obstacle for some models serving in Europe, so speaking multiple languages is definitely a plus. -Douglas Richter, Camspower
To get a better understanding of today’s situation, XBIZ recently asked some leading live cam experts from CamsPower, a European-based firm, and Chaturbate and Cherry Pimps, both U.S.-based companies, how the European market for live cams is different than the U.S. and other markets.
When asked if European cam companies have an advantage in serving European audiences, or if it is possible for American and other international companies to be competitive in this market as well, CamsPower Webcam Unit Director, Douglas Richter, explained that while there are advantages and disadvantages to serving your local audience, U.S. companies can indeed be competitive in Europe.
“With technology, most of our jobs can be done from anywhere,” Richter told XBIZ. “So yes, North American companies can definitely compete.”
“There is nothing more important than having strong business relationships in the markets you wish to do business in,” Richter added. “In the modern age, making those connections and keeping fresh the business relationships has never been more manageable.”
Chaturbate’s CEO Shirley Lara told XBIZ that while there certainly is a bit of a home court advantage as it relates to serving local languages, she notes that in this international age, consumers look for the best product available — regardless of its native language or where the company is located.
“Although a business may be classified as a European or a U.S. company, the content on the Chaturbate platform is created and broadcast from all parts of the world,” Lara explains. “The bottom line is that consumers are smart, and go with the best user experience and platform.”
Jack Lawson, CEO of Avalanche Services, which may be better known by its Cherry Pimps adult brand, believes that European companies definitely have an inherent advantage in their own locale — just as American companies have in their locale — but notes that there is still a very large demand for American porn stars, which Cherry Pimps is happy to satisfy.
“Many European companies do fly in American stars, but it definitely isn’t possible to deliver them with the same frequency we are able to,” Lawson told XBIZ. “But, this can also be said about European stars [and American companies], so it works both ways.”
As for the advantages and disadvantages that company’s see in serving European audiences, Richter notes that as an E.U.-based company, CamsPower serves many local markets where the company enjoys a combined success with its local partners.
“Having a local presence definitely improves your chance for success,” Richter says. “Over the years the company has had plenty of time to seek out most merchants, reps and business partners in this area to evolve our systems and business with the newest solutions. The disadvantage is it becomes incredibly costly to set up operations in multiple countries.”
Lara notes that Chaturbate takes steps to ensure European audiences enjoy a top-quality experience —such as offering locally favored billing choices, and being translated into 15 different languages; as well as by delivering crystal-clear content, along with payment methods tailored to each specific market.
“For us, it’s crucial to globally accommodate multiple billing options. European audiences, like their U.S. counterparts, place a high priority on superb technology and quality content. That is our biggest strength,” Lara says. “Our biggest challenge is ensuring that we offer the right payment options in the right geographical areas.”
Lawson says that the biggest advantage Cherry Pimps sees in serving European audiences is expanding its American models and brands into virgin territory.
“Many of our models have huge fan bases throughout Europe, and other than scenes they shoot for European companies, many fans rarely get the one-on-one interaction cams provide,” Lawson explains. “We’re happy to provide this through our feature shows and more intimate solo member shows.”
“We really don’t see any disadvantages to serving European audiences outside the difficulty of reaching them in their time zone,” Lawson adds, “but fans don’t see this as a limitation and we try to meet them as well.”
Richter notes that European audiences have discernible billing, content and technology preferences.
“We are working in an industry where bigger is usually better, but often in Europe, the one size fits all approach simply does not work,” Richter explains. “We made some very interesting studies over the years that show that each particular nation or region of the E.U. has its own very specific differences.”
“A provider must apply a local approach to its entire product presentation — from model offerings all the way to local payments,” Richter adds. “That being said, there are aspects such as great video quality and an awesome user experience that are universal requirements.”
For her part, Lara exhibits a positive outlook on the European live cam market today.
“The European market is thriving, and we are proud to be a serious player in that market,” Lara says. “They have displayed strong preferences in using SMS billing. This isn’t just for online adult purchases, but for mainstream ecommerce as well.”
As for any significant benefits or drawbacks that non-European live cam performers face when serving European customers, Lawson believes that the single biggest benefit to American or any other locale’s live cam performers and studios is the ability to capitalize on different time zones.
“The Internet has allowed for fan bases to grow globally with no limitation, and models can now reach all of them with just a few clicks,” Lawson explains. “This accessibility has made the revenue stream nearly limitless, as the revenue is only limited by the length of their broadcast.”
“Many cam performers still limit their broadcasts to the prime time local to them, but this severely limits their potential — and as a studio, we’ve had to do the same by expanding our feature show schedule to try and accommodate both European and American audiences,” Lawson concludes, adding, “The Asian markets seem the most difficult to capture for us due to staffing issues — but that is something we are actively working to resolve.”
In this competitive arena, multilingual broadcasters have a distinct advantage.
“Without any prejudice I can tell you these girls and boys are great performers, whether their fan is coming from the E.U. or from somewhere else,” Richter says. “Typically the language barrier is an obstacle for some models serving in Europe, so speaking multiple languages is definitely a plus.”
“From a monetary standpoint, broadcasters have an advantage by attracting consumers from all different markets,” Lara explains. “As a live cam platform, it’s our responsibility to provide numerous payment options for our members.”
Richter echoed the sentiment by stating that the most important thing to know about serving the European live cam market in 2015 is to “Think Local!”
For its part, Chaturbate is seeing more European broadcasters become affiliates, where performers are earning more by taking proactive steps to build up and monetize their fan base.
“Broadcasters are generating their own interest/traffic by going on Reddit, SnapChat, Twitter, and then pushing their affiliate links so that fans can join them in our live chat,” Lara says. “This type of marketing has been common in the U.S. market, but I’m now seeing more of it from international broadcasters.”
It’s clear from the comments of these operators that any market distinctions between the U.S. and Europe can be profitably overcome — regardless of which side of the pond your office is located on.