Saturday, July 19, 2008

Porn's Financial Woes

Variety bends over to kick the porn industry while its down.
Economists are citing some dire portents of a recession these days, but they've missed one indicator I find especially disturbing: The porn business has suddenly gone flaccid.

The drop in porn rentals and sales is worrisome on several fronts: Till now, porn has been a recession-proof business. Further, with the country already in a dispirited mood, the fact that porn has gone limp may indicate a true plunge in consumer confidence.

DVD porn is down between 10% and 30%, depending on which nook and cranny of the business you scrutinize. Joy King, executive vice president of Wicked Pictures, and a smart analyst of the business, says the smallest dropoff is in "couples-friendly porn" -- films that embrace something of a storyline. Women account for roughly half of this audience, making their purchases in lingerie boutiques and toy stores (no, not kiddie toys).

By contrast, that sector called the "gonzo" side of the business is in serious need of fiscal Viagra. Guys with an appetite for "gonzo" are going unrequited, which may help account for the closing of many DVD emporiums like the Movie Galleries in the Midwest.

One beneficiary of these trends is online porn -- a business that's lofty in traffic but shriveled in terms of revenue. With sales declining across the landscape, employees at big corporations have a lot more time to check out the three-minute porn clips flashing across their computers. To the serious porn players, some of these clips are beyond hardcore -- they're, well, mega-gonzo.
Of course there are some claims that the economic stimulus has stemmed the tide of losses, though I'm never one to put too much stock into unverified press releases.
NEW YORK, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will "boost our economy and encourage job creation," has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans' mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, "Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market."

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for, one of the sites reporting figures to AIMRCo, added, "In a June 15, 2008 survey to our members, thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership."

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