The Adult DVD Market: 1

Josh Chamberlain
When Jeffrey J. Douglas stood before a gathering of mainstream video software executives in Iowa in 1998, he was faced with a group of decision makers trying to figure how to get consumers to buy newfangled DVD players.

The executives were hungry for content to lead the charge — but not necessarily adult.

Douglas, a First Amendment attorney who represents many adult-oriented businesses, now says it was the adult industry that played a significant role in leading DVD players into consumers' households.

"If you're watching for certain kinds of sex, the press of a button gets you exactly what you want," Douglas said, who pointed out that studios were running as many as three cameras per shoot to give the customer a choice of three different angles of the same scene on DVD.

Back in those seemingly prehistoric days, Hollywood studios were hesitant toward DVD technology and couldn't supply a bulk load of content because most titles were contractually restricted.

But adult studios like VCA, with its huge library on videotape, had no such problems and began converting analog to digital by the truckload.

DVD players began to fly off the shelves, and everyone benefited.

Today, do a Google search for "DVD porn" and you'll get 7.9 million links. The same search for DVD XXX will yield 9.1 million links. The availability of adult content is fast being satisfied by thousands, if not millions of DVD sites online. A simple search "adult DVD" brings up an astonishing 15.4 million links.

'Deep Throat'
The 1972 Linda Lovelace classic "Deep Throat" brought porn out into the open. The title was even borrowed as the infamous pseudonym for an informant involved in the Watergate scandal.

It was porn that drove VCR sales in the early 1980s, porn that boosted the Internet 10 years later, and in recent years porn has spurred the sales of DVD players. And it is porn that has slipped into bed with high-definition television and DVD, inspiring a worldwide love affair with this new medium.

One of the reasons for such rapid growth is that adult DVD features are cheaper to produce and duplicate than VHS. The pictures are sharper and there is room for more content. Also, because DVD content is purely digital, the content can be sliced and diced and repurposed for any number of uses.

"Mike B," as he is known in the trade, represents Internet Business Services, a web management firm that counts CECash as one of its clients.

Mike B is also a webmaster at, boasting a library of 6,500 hardcore adult titles. The company offers three price levels. All levels include an unlimited number of DVDs. As soon as a customer sends one back, they get the next one in the mail. On signup, the first level customer gets three free DVDs and a maximum of three DVDs at a time. Shipping is free and there are no late fees.

"For people who like to have more than three DVDs at a time, we offer a $29.99 per-month membership where the maximum is six DVDs at a time, and for the die-hard, we offer the 'Platinum' package for $39.99 per month with 10 DVDs at a time, available on your second month of membership," Mike B said.

"If they really like a DVD, they may go out and buy it to have in their permanent library," he added.

Mike B says the online rental model helps give additional exposure to all the labels carried and gives the consumer the power to make informed purchasing decisions.

"In the future, we should see more and more adult DVD rental businesses going online if they are not already," he said. "I don't think the big studios will take on DVD rental distribution on their own. They will likely continue to let companies with established infrastructures distribute their titles both as a physical product and a virtual (video on demand) product. To be successful, you cannot carry the labels of only one or two studios, you have to carry them all."

In Part 2, we'll examine the future of online DVD rentals, and the implications for production and distribution channels. Stay Tuned!