Adult Content Providers Slow to Embrace HD Format

Lyla Katz

CYBERSPACE — The adult industry usually leads the way in cutting edge technology, but when it comes to HDTV programming, the industry is slow to embrace it.

According to, while virtually all widely distributed general entertainment and news based cable networks offer HDTV, adult offerings aren’t nearly as fruitful.

Executives from adult networks say limited channel bandwith and a lack of demand has slowed the rollout of linear adult HDTV channels and HD VOD offerings.

"Distributors are looking to differentiate relative to the free online options, and HD could be one of those differentiators to the online experience if it's done right," said Gary Rosenson, Playboy TV senior vice president.

Currently, only a few adult themed linear channels are available to consumers. Hustler TV, Playboy TV, and New Frontier Media's Penthouse TV all offer HD versions, while several smaller porn content distributors package HD on demand titles to cable operators for distribution.

But most linear network and on demand product from adult distributors is still offered in standard definition.

Hustler TV president Michael Klein said operators have been slow to dedicate the bandwidth necessary to offer adult HD content.

"It's taken some time to launch and for some operators, it's a bandwidth issue," Klein said. "But we're seeing more of those that are doing it."

Klein said that Hustler films all of its original content in HD, and 90 percent of content it licenses from studios is in true high-definition, and not upconverted from standard definition.

"We have been shooting content from our own studios ourselves in HD for years, knowing that eventually there would be a growing market for it in broadcast and Internet," he said.

But other industry observers question whether there's a huge pent-up consumer demand to see such content in vivid, HD clarity.

Playboy's Rosenson said the demand for HD content will build when more content is available.

Current standard definition VOD adult offerings, offers consumers a variety of titles and adult genres. Once distributors have enough bandwidth to allow for the same variety of choice in an HD format, then the consumers will begin to flock to the technology.