Posted by David Polakoff on September 6, 2011
The Windmills of My Immediate Mind
Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff
“What’s Porn is Prologue”
In my worldwide media industry travels, I readily learned that two genres of programming cross borders and languages: nature documentaries and adult entertainment. The latter content category has been a major driver in consumer penetration (no pun intended) of technological introduction. With consumers continuing to gain control of the media marketplace, the consumption of adult entertainment content is again driving the marketplace, but this time it is the consumer wagging the distributors’ and content providers’ tails.
Adult entertainment content boosted the adoption of both cable television (and satellite television) and later the VCR. Cable television’s less restrictive content rules, over broadcast television, allowed the exhibition of more adult themed programming, including nudity and sex. Premium channels offered even more explicit programming, since rattling sensitivities of advertisers and brands was not a factor. Pay-per-view offered more individual selection and even more convenience. The VCR facilitated the private and discreet ownership and repeated viewing of material that was previously available in public adult theaters. DVD player sales similarly benefited from the adult genre offerings with even more convenient control (slow motion; fast forwarding; greater portability) of viewing. Thus cable and satellite subscriptions (in-home and in hotel rooms) and VCR/DVD purchases were boosted by viewing of what had not previously been readily available. Pricepoints for much of this content commanded premiums because of consumer propositions of availability, convenience, and the discreetness of the purchase. Because adult entertainment propelled the expanse of cable/satellite television and the VCR/DVD, other entertainment formats were able to flourish in the now scalable marketplace.
The internet has similarly benefited from photo and video adult entertainment content websites being pervasive, accessible, convenient, and further meeting consumer demand with the additional capability to focus on specific categories of user interest. Unlike cable/satellite channel, pay-per-view, and VCR/DVD offerings, the internet also opened up the stage for user generated content to satisfy exhibitionist’s desires and the consumer interest in content produced on either an amateur or professional basis.
Demand for adult entertainment has not waned, but dedicated adult magazines and adult channels (e.g., Playboy) are losing eyeballs and dollars as consumers have access to alternatives: increased outlets, greater variety of programming, and lower pricepoints (including free). Not to be overlooked is the satisfaction consumers garner from both the professionally produced content as well as the user produced content; and in short and long format durations.
Does the adult entertainment format really differ from other content formats? Are historical and current trends much different in the adult entertainment category vs. news, music, drama, comedy, etc.? Adult entertainment, across the spectrum of soft to hard styles, is a most ubiquitously demanded content format and because it is not as universally available and considering it is not as marketable in the public forums as the other genres, it is a unique format that does drive adoption of technological/hardware innovation. As it is a market driver, the economics of offering and delivering adult entertainment are at the leading edge of other formats.
It is another market indicator that consumers enjoy and demand content in short and long formats, professionally and user-generated produced, and at pricepoints at both premium and free levels. Consumers are willing to draw upon many sources to satisfy their consumption demand, with channel and brand loyalty being diluted in the process. For consumers to continue to purchase content in the current environment, it has to stand above the crowd with its uniqueness and quality and be at a tolerable pricepoint.
The marketplace is absolutely dictating the utility of legacy industry players. It is another case of business models being turned aside and companies being either slow to proactively adjust or simply outliving their usefulness. Content providers and distributors of all content formats should pay heed to realize their new position in the marketplace, and adjust their act much more nimbly and swiftly, lest they be caught with their pants down. The proverb, what is past is prologue is pornderful.
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