In Vegas, it's all about CEXXX

Porn industry's love affair with technology on full display at Adult Entertainment Expo at CES.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
4 min read
LAS VEGAS--A short cab ride away from the sprawling convention center here, where comedian Robin Williams yucked it up with Google co-founder Larry Page Friday afternoon, a surprisingly sober crowd was talking about the latest technology in use in the adult video industry.

More than 120 people from throughout the adult industry gathered at the Sands Expo and Convention Center here for a session at the Adult Entertainment Expo entitled "Every which way--The latest technological advances in entertainment."

Among the tens of thousands who descended on Sin City for the massive Consumer Electronics Show, this was probably the best place to find business people who really understand what their customers want. And during the 90-minute session, a group of Web site owners and content providers explained about the newest ways they're utilizing the Internet and high-tech to get porn into the hands of an eager worldwide audience.

New technological advances in porn distribution, of course, have a broad impact. According to statistics gathered by Adult Video News, the adult industry did $12 billion in business in 2005, making it even bigger than video games--which itself has grown to be bigger than Hollywood.

Of that, said the talk's moderator, Mark Friedler, CEO of the video game reviews site, GameDAILY, 55 percent comes from video and DVD or Internet sales. All told, he said, there were 13,600 new porn titles produced in 2005 and 957 million rentals of those titles.

But as the adult industry tries to find new avenues to get its content to consumers, it is turning increasingly to new distribution models and Friday's panelists were on hand to share what they are doing.

Pay-per-minute porn
One new model is the pay-per-minute Internet porn site. Traditionally, online porn films have been available an entire film at a time, and for the price of an entire film. But new outfits like HotMovies.com are hoping to score big business by partnering with 925 adult studios to make 32,000 films available to consumers by the minute.

"The reason so many DVDs are sold is that until recently, there was no way to go to the Internet and pay per minute," Cohen said. "The majority of men?just want adult content."

The idea, said Richard Cohen, HotMovies.com's founder, is that consumers don't want to have to pay for a full film when they only view a few minutes of a video at a time. Thus, his site offers films at around 10 cents a minute--in a model he likened to phone cards--and lets users choose exactly what scenes in a film they want to watch and save in a bookmarked favorites folder.

And while the adult industry is dominated by studios like Vivid, Private and others and there are dozens of porn stars making the bulk of the films, Cohen said that's not how consumers ingest the content. Rather, they want specific types of content. Thus, HotMovies.com allows users to search for keywords and then produces lists of films and specific scenes containing such content.

Another new model in the adult industry is IP-based television. And one new service launching Friday is Entice.TV.

According to Susan Keil, Entice.TV's CEO, the idea is to give users license or subscription access to Internet-based porn that they can watch on their televisions.

"We can do that now with any product that's out there," said Keil. "But what makes Entice.TV unique is that we're able to provide DVD quality?.It's optimized for television."

The site offers users the ability to subscribe and receive a specific number of videos per month, or allows for downloading films for either seven days or a month at a time. Alternatively, users can buy a long-term license, which gives them the ability to watch a film as long as they stay a member of Entice.TV.

Of course, the market for adult DVDs is still huge, and WantedList.com is one company attempting to leverage the Internet as a way to change the traditional distribution models.

In fact, said Ahn Tran, founder of WantedList.com, his company is trying to take what Netflix has done for mainstream DVD rentals--allow subscribers to rent DVDs by mail with no late charges--and apply the model to porn.

And new technology is also being applied in helping studios physically produce their DVDs.

One company bringing the latest technology to that business is Kunaki, which has developed a platform for the quick digital transfer and archiving of adult content from the studios to the distributors.

The idea, said Kunaki CEO Christian Strumm, is that digital technology can give studios the quickest possible way to turn their content into DVDs.

He explained that studios would use Kunaki's software to create quick copies of their content. Then they would upload that content to Kunaki's servers. And finally, the company can quickly and cheaply produce the DVDs and send them on to distributors.

All told, he said, the process can take as little as a day and can be done entirely on demand.

"It's a low-volume, low-risk and low-inventory type" of business, Strumm said. "As soon as we get the (digital) order, it is manufactured and sent out."

In any case, while much of the Adult Entertainment Expo here is devoted to the physical products adult-oriented stores--vibrators, sexual aids, lubrication and the like--it is no surprise that an industry which was among the very first to adopt nearly every Internet-related technology would once again be putting a focus on how the latest Internet innovations can be used to make the adult industry more profitable than ever.