Flash-forward 25 years, through the explosion of DVDs and the infamous stained blue dress that soiled Bill Clinton's presidency, through 9/11, the war in Iraq and Martin Scorsese finally winning his Best Director Academy Award, and you arrive where we are today in the land of porn: video-on-demand.
In the gay market, a few VOD contenders have started to aggressively become frontrunners. NakedSword and AEBN have partnered up, while Maleflixxx continues to reel in larger, reputable companies and GayHotMovies is coming up right on the big dogs' tails. Many of the studios themselves offer their own VOD service on their company sites. Titan Media, Channel 1 Releasing, Lucas Entertainment and Bel Ami are but a few of these studios — but others are starting to catch on, and the gay porn surfer could get whiplash trying to choose the right studio in which to drop their cash.
So the question is this: What do consumers look for in a VOD provider?
XBIZ delved into the consumer's realm, going right to the source for answers. A few well-placed posts on a variety of gay message boards yielded a plentitude of responses.
"I'm always looking for the new releases," Jason from Santa Monica, Calif., said. "I don't go out and buy movies anymore — I patiently wait for something new on one of the sites and then I'll watch it. It's much easier to shop from home, without all the shadiness or embarrassment of going to a retail outlet."
"I look for my favorite studios," said Otter from North Dakota. "I love Kristen Bjorn titles and I know that Maleflixxx is the only place you can find his newer stuff. As soon as I sniff out a new title of his, I'm ready for the day it releases."
In fact, most of the responses stated that they had memberships to more than one VOD site — and on studios' paysites.
"When I go looking for porn, I don't want to limit myself," A.J. from New York City said. "I have a membership to several of the VOD sites as well as a few of the studios."
Albert from Los Angeles said: "The VOD company that I look for has to have the best quality streaming with the most affordable rates. I know with NakedSword/AEBN you are given an option of either paying by the minute or a monthly membership fee. I do the membership fee because I get more bang for my buck. Unlimited porn!"
Tim from Westport, Conn., said, "I like the way Maleflixxx has their site set up. You pay for a block of time and then rent by the scene or rent the entire movie. I love the high-quality studios they have so I am never disappointed by what movies I choose to watch."
"I look for accessibility," said Zachery from Las Vegas. "I want to be able to go onto a site and do what I need to do, without any hassle. Any time it takes me too long to get a movie started, I'm already flipping to a site that's more accommodating for me. So the technology behind the site is so important. It has to be user-friendly."
According to the consumers, it all comes down to what the site has to offer the surfer. Do they have extra bells and whistles, like NakedSword's interview segment "The Tim & Roma Show?" Do they have extensive photo galleries? Do they offer more than just viewing pleasure?
With studio VOD sites, do they offer extended scenes? Do they have extra scenes?
Channel 1 Releasing features exclusive models in scenes shot directly for the web — it's another way to showcase those performers surfers can't get enough of.
In essence, do they have that something extra that will attract viewers?
"Lucas Entertainment is always offering up new scenes from their upcoming movies before the DVD hits the street," A.J. said. "So I feel like I'm getting something more for my monthly fee."
Bel Ami's website has a plethora of extra goodies on it, from extensive model galleries to video journals with Europe's hottest young men, including superstar Johan Paulik. Shows shot directly for the website make up a huge percentage of their site.
"I love Bel Ami," wrote Ryan from Colorado. "Every day there's a new pretty boy just waiting for me. Who couldn't love something like that? Plus, they have daily contests where you can vote for your favorite models. It's nice to feel that you can play a part in a company that you've invested so much into."
WAVE OF THE FUTURE
A good majority of those tallied said that they also go to free websites like XTube, a site that is not unlike YouTube, but where the members post X-rated clips of themselves.
"If you're into the amateur stuff, XTube is a great site," Todd from Boston said. "You pay for the minutes you use and you can choose from a bunch of categories: bears, twinks, leather, anime, you name it. They, too, have video streaming, but not nearly at the level of some of the bigger VOD companies."
The same can be said of smaller outlets that provide VOD content. TLAonDemand.com and RadVideo .com are rapidly proving that they are contenders in the VOD ring.
Does this mean that the major VOD content providers should be worried? It's doubtful — there's room enough on the web for everybody. From what consumers are saying, consumers aren't looking to put all their eggs in one basket.
"I love the fact that I can find almost any film that I'm looking for nowadays," P. Hill from Chicago said. "It used to be that I'd have to scour all the video stores in the Chicago area to find something to rent or buy. And even then, I might have to be added to a waiting list. With all the studios starting to re-circulate their old product, I'm finding more and more titles that I fell in love with when I was younger coming back. It's a little bit of nostalgia — because everyone remembers their early porn experiences."
"If anything, the VOD market is getting bigger and better," said Greg of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "In a few years, I would not be surprised if they'll have taken over the market."
With the explosion of VOD content in the past year, Greg's not that far off. Companies are implementing better systems to make their sites user-friendly. They also are wooing the best and biggest in gay adult entertainment — partnerships are the key to their longevity.
These VOD companies know, very much like that magical baseball field in Kevin Costner's "Field of Dreams," that "if you build it, they will come."
And based on the many message board responses, they're coming in droves.