Bel Ami Revamps Website, Dumps DRM

JC Adams
TORONTO — All-male studio Bel Ami has gone live with an extensive revamp of its 10-year-old membership site and official online store. Among the notable changes is the removal of DRM encoding.

"We believe the new is set apart from other gay porn websites," a site rep told XBIZ. "Everything from the design to the functionality has been improved upon to make the experience that much better for the members."

"In 1999 Bel Ami was one of the first studios to go on the Internet. Ten years later, we are now the next-generation gay porn website."

A redesigned "feature-packed tour" offers samples of photo sets, current and classic films and original short documentaries. One brand-new feature is iBelAmiNews, a newsletter designed to allow company founder George Duroy "a mechanism to communicate directly with customers and surfers."

The newsletter "gives us a chance to be a bit playful and bring some fun back into the website," Bel Ami COO Stuart Davis said. "Most of the articles are written by George and feature anecdotes about life behind the scenes, humorous stories or bits of information on the models. It is a very entertaining read."

The removal of DRM allows "new and existing users an unprecedented level of access to the material," the site rep said. "Existing clips have been prepared in new, higher bit rate formats and HD updates have been introduced giving surfers crystal-clear video. With the removal of DRM, all users are now able to access our better quality downloadable files."

Additional tweaks include improved navigation, tabbed browsing and front-page display of recent updates, as well as "revolutionary new watermarking technology where each video is individually and invisibly watermarked," the rep said.

"Since the soft launch of the new site we have seen a doubling of the amount of time users spend browsing," Davis remarked. "Before it seemed that people would come in, get the latest clip and then leave. Now they are taking advantage of the many extra benefits we offer.

"We would like to encourage all kinds of participation. Members can comment on individual clips, or in our forum on any topic they wish. We want users to see the site as a web destination, not only as a place to download porn."

Duroy said this week's relaunch is the "fifth major update" to the website in its 10-year history. "I'm confident that you would be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive, well-designed and frequently updated gay porn site on the web."

In related news, Bel Ami and San Diego-based recently announced a partnership involving content production as well as cross-platform marketing and distribution. The pact covers web-exclusive video as well as "Five Americans in Prague," a hardcore DVD set for release later this year.