Irish Report Looks at Why Porn Biz Still Suffers

Nov 30, 2011 11:00 AM PST

DUBLIN, Ireland — A recent report asks the question that despite a healthy global appetite for porn, why is the industry continuing to lose money?

Citing strong porn consumption by Irish teenagers (58 percent), the continuous surge in Google search terms and web traffic for porn, and more than half of hotel movie rentals being adult, the report in Ireland’s Independent said the downturn in the $13 billion industry continues to reel from free tube site porn.

The story pointed out that porn revenues have dropped 50 to 80 percent according to estimates it gleaned from the XBIZ EU London conference in September.

Industry leaders at the conference were lamenting the tough times and pointed out that porn used to be the testing grounds for what worked for other media, but that's no longer the case.

“They led the way with Internet business models," an Irish academic said, "and now they're seeing the decline in their industry before everyone else."

Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke said in an XBIZ session, "I asked my son once, 'Do you pay for your porn?' I managed to get an answer out of him that was, 'If you buy it, it's kind of sleazy.'"

Vivid’s Bill Asher said in the story, "The death of the DVD business has been more accelerated in the adult business than mainstream," and estimated that the company’s revenue is down more than 20 percent in 2011.

"We always said that once the Internet took off, we'd be OK. It never crossed our minds that we'd be competing with people who just give it away for free," Asher said.

The report also pointed out that user-submitted porn and webcams are hurting the traditional adult industry.

It drew comparisons to free content in other media including music and newspapers despite their efforts to stop the bleeding, but noted that the new generation of Internet users are used to getting content for free.

“As any economist will tell you, nothing is ever free; someone somewhere is bearing the cost. For the porn industry, the trick is to get those 58 percent of teenagers to pay their way,” the report said.

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