Maybe not, but the future's coming, and tube sites appear to be a part of that future, for better or worse. Scores of tube sites offer hundreds of full adult scenes for free, much to the chagrin of the adult industry. Many adult industry professionals complain that tube site operators are diluting the value of their products.
Jay Quinlan, OC Cash’s Director of Marketing, is one of those vocal industry members. The argument against tube sites is simple: In this economy, it's hurting everybody to give something away for free.
"How are you supposed to sell something that you're already giving away?" he said to XBIZ. "These days, I don't think people are specific about what they're going to jerk off to."
But here's the kicker: Despite the widespread dislike of these sites, companies are popping up to help generate more of them, and the proprietors of these sites say that they're just at the cutting edge of the adult industry.
One such company is IPC, or Instant Porn Community, which seeks to help webmasters start their own tube sites. IPC is owned by a company called Anthill Servicii SRL. Anhill Vice President Lee Lorimer told XBIZ that those who would oppose the tube site model are simply not looking ahead.
"Most of the bemoaning is due to resistance to the inevitability of innovation," he said. "Regardless of the stances proponents of the older business models have, the reality is that the tube model is here, is not a passing fad, and will continue its expansion into the role of dominant adult business model. Our company takes our conviction in this matter, and applies it innovatively and dynamically to address the broadest audience of webmasters out there."
Is the current business model — where producers make content that they sell to consumers — about to be swept away?
IPC's Lorimer suggested that the future will be supported by advertising — a model that his company asks its affiliates to follow. Webmasters who sign up with IPC, located at DiscoverIPC.com, agree to pay IPC $50 per month.
"You see, what we're doing is essentially offloading the marketing prowess needed to monetize a tube site to the point of cost neutrality," he said. "Our implementation of ad sales covers the aggregated costs of all IPC sites, and sustains the company. From that point, we let you apply your own marketing initiatives to push you into the green."
IPC's affiliate program also pays $50 per webmaster referral and $10 recurring for the duration of those accounts. IPC's business model runs contrary to the typical affiliate program, which doesn't charge its affiliates anything, instead merely providing them with a selection of paysites and an arsenal of promotional tools.
Although hard numbers aren't available that detail the amount of money lost to tube sites, there's no denying their popularity. Adult tube sites occupy prominent slots among Alexa's top sites, including YouPorn.com at 50, XTube.com and 300 and YouJizz.com at 435. One of IPC's own tube sites, BangBull.com, ranks at 3,120.
Another company that's going out of its way to distribute tube site technology to the masses is Nubiles.net. At the website Tubescript.nubiles.net, users can download a free tube site script that they can use.
But Nubiles' program differs from IPC's in many ways. Users who download the Nubiles script have to install and maintain their tube site on their own servers. In addition, Nubiles pre-loads their scripts with nothing but their own content. Most important, once the script is installed, the eventual tube site won't include the option to upload new content.
The ability to upload content marks the divide in this argument. X-Play's Jeff Mullen is a tireless opponent of tube sites and free content, yet even he has conceded that if a tube site only offers brief previews of full scenes, that's an acceptable way to promote an adult property.
Industry professional Albert Lozario, formerly of CECash.com, also suggested that some companies could find success from building their own internal tube sites to promote their own content or by providing short clips to webmasters to promote.
But if a webmaster builds a tube site that includes the option to upload content, then all bets are off. Users can — and will — upload all kinds of unlicensed content, including full scenes or entire adult titles. And unlike YouTube, which runs no ads on unlicensed content, many adult tube sites runs ads, while other adult companies choose to post clips of their own on tube sites.
One such company that has received criticism for its association with tube sites is leading adult paysite network Brazzers. Preview scenes for Brazzers content appear on RedTube, typically with a link to one of the company's many promotional pages.
Without going into specifics, a representative for Brazzers told XBIZ that some aspect of the company's policy will soon change.
"In 2009, we will be committed to changing market conditions and making a stand against content piracy that has hurt us significantly in 2008," the representative said.
Advertising on tube sites has drawn the ire of many adult industry professionals, including one prominent industry member who spoke to XBIZ anonymously.
"So-called legitimate adult companies need to know what kind of content they are sponsoring with their banners and ad spots," the industry member said. "Ignorance is no excuse. If they don't know what they are sponsoring, they need to find out. Tube site and file sharing server operators need to admit that they are making money off stolen content because most of them deny responsibility. Actually, the list of individuals and companies making money off the stolen content of legitimate companies is too long to break down in one statement."
But when it came to this line of argument, IPC's Lorimer said that everybody's doing it, so why not go after them, too?
"You could bring up the same [arguments] for almost any website that allows user uploads, including mainstream sites out there," he said. "What about Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook or any video- or photo-sharing site?"
Lorimer added that his company monitors the content on its sites 24 hours a day, and that they'll take down any content they deem inappropriate or if they get a DMCA notice, referring to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
OC Cash's Quinlan called the DMCA "poorly written" and "archaic," while saying that companies who post unlicensed content are merely "hiding behind" the legislation.
But despite his own opposition to tube sites, Quinlan operates two of his own at SnizzShare.com and DickShare.com, both of which he said he populates with short clips that are on the up and up.
Unfortunately, Quinlan also said that playing by the rules doesn't make for a very popular tube site. Although the traffic for both of his tube sites has been "growing slowly" since he launched them, Quinlan added that as an experienced adult webmaster, he knows a lot more about generating traffic than the average web denizen.
Over the hill in Hollywood, mainstream video site Hulu.com only gets a fraction of the traffic that YouTube gets, but Hulu is already making more money. And they're doing it by posting videos of popular movies and TV shows.
But savvy web surfers should know that Hulu's business model differs dramatically from that of a typical tube site. The reason why YouTube isn't making as much money is because only 4 percent of its content is licensed and therefore fair game for advertising. The minds behind Hulu took care to get licenses for everything they run, and that means they can run ads with any of it.
Uncle Troy of Nubiles.net told XBIZ that he and his creative team started offering the free tube script to start a slew of similar sites in the adult industry.
"The main reason we did the script was because we wanted to start a new trend of legitimate legal tube sites where affiliates running the tube sites would push sponsors on the appropriate video pages," he said.
But at the same time, the struggle between two different schools of thoughts persists.
"There seems to be two types of webmasters," Uncle Troy said. "Those whole utilize sponsor content to send sales to that specific sponsor, and those that utilize any content to get surfers on their site."
Quinlan agreed with that sentiment.
"The [tube site] format isn't the problem," he said. "It's the illegal ones."