educational

The Adult DVD Market: 2

Josh Chamberlain
In Part 1, we examined adult's role in spurring market penetration of DVD players and the evolution of the DVD rental by mail model. In this conclusion, we'll look at the future of online DVD rentals, and the implications for production and distribution channels.

Rosy Future?
Mike is optimistic about the future of online DVD rentals.

"In the past two years we've seen URentDVDs.com's online adult rental business continually grow," he said. "More people are finding out how convenient and private renting DVDs online can be."

URentDVDs offers a webmaster affiliate program, paying $20, $25, or $30 per signup, depending on the membership level.

In business for a little more than a year, DVDsForaBuck.com only sells its own products. The company offers the first five DVDs for $1. The dollar "trial membership" automatically renews for $34.95 a month.

The gimmick is intended to bring in new memberships, and Fabian Citraro, director of sales, says it works.

Citraro compares the company to Columbia House, which offers five DVDs for 49 cents or 12 music CDs as incentives to join the club.

DVDsForaBuck members get credits every month, two for any titles retailing for $24.95 or less, or one for $24.95 or more. Shipping is free.

In addition, the company offers members instant access to thousands of online streaming videos at no extra charge.

"We provide a value to the customers that they can hold on to," Citraro said. "A guy comes on for three months, he gets to hold on to 10-15 DVDs for the rest of his life. The longer a person stays, the better deal he has."

Adult.com produces "reality videos" at a prodigious rate, churning out at least two hours of content every week. The company sells the product on DVD and also makes it available as streaming content. Adult.com has three basic programs: Reality Cash, 10 Dollar Cash and Playboy Cash, a joint venture with Playboy Enterprises. The company is also in the process of finalizing deals for cable.

Eric Matis, sales director for Adult.com, says his company has tens of thousands of webmasters selling memberships and collecting commissions in its affiliate programs, and they get 60 percent of trials and rebills.

Webmasters buy DVDs through Adult.com's Cinemaplay Entertainment, which launched in the summer. Cinemaplay does not sell to the general public. The company fields an army of distributors, picking up the DVDs and delivering them to stores. Matis says his company has video crews working all over the world.

"Basically you can pick any member of society and they could be one of our customers," Matis said. "We don't really aim for anyone in specific — we just make the content, and whoever likes it is welcome to buy it. But for the most part, it is straight content.

"We do not have any gay titles. Reality content is stuff that is meant to seem like it is real. Like a girl being 'tricked' or something of that nature."

Vivid Entertainment, which has been in the business for 20 years, churns out 40 features a year on DVD. Vivid is almost so mainstream it has three billboards on West Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard and one in Manhattan's Times Square.

Vivid also produces dozens of compilations. They still shoot some of their content on 16mm film, but the company has made a substantial investment in digital content.

"Some people just like the look of film," David Schlesinger, Vivid's vice president of licensing, said.

More Digital Cams
Three cameras per shoot is old stuff, according to Schlesinger. "We're running five (digital cams) on many of our productions these days"

And because DVDs can carry so much more content than VHS, they are adding features like multilingual audio tracks and bonuses like "Behind the Scenes With the Vivid Girls," and fly-on-the-wall content that puts the viewer into intimate contact with the stars.

"It's fantasy stuff that simulates a one-on-one, first-person experience with a Vivid Girl," Schlesinger said. "It's all possible because of the wide choice of shots instantly available to the viewer on DVD."

Schlesinger says reality video is great — if it's done right. "But if it's contrived, it's embarrassing," he said.

"We went to Europe last summer and shot mini-docs on location," he continued. "It's a lot more interesting walking around a castle talking with a girl than at some house in the Valley."

And about that aforementioned romance with hi-def, it blossomed with Digital Playground's October release of "Island Fever 3" — the first hi-def DVD to reach the adult market.

But Vivid's Schlesinger isn't so sure about hi-def.

"If it's not lit right, if it's not shot right, the quality may be a little too good," he said.

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