2013 could perhaps not have gone much worse for the pornography industry.
The DVD business, once the lifeblood of adult movie producers, dwindled further. Legal challenges over mandatory condom laws continued to dog the sector. And porn companies were compelled to shut down production three instances after four performers tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
As the business prepares for the Adult Entertainment Expo, its yearly trade show in Vegas, the issue on everybody's mind is: What does 2014 have in-store?
No one's positive, of course, but some insiders are cautiously optimistic the worst is over.
Steve Hirsch, Vivid Entertainment
"My general impression is the sector has bottomed out," says Alec Helmy, creator and publisher of industry trade publication Xbiz. "Companies have figured out how to change their business models to keep up profitability. In regard to the amount of players, it is at an all-time low, but those who have survived are clearly the stronger breed."
"DVD revenue are just alive at this point," says Steven Hirsch, creator of Vivid, among the sector's largest and best known studios. "We have seen likely an 80 percent reduction in sales in the last five years--to the point where pretty shortly it's not likely to make sense to place movies out on DVD. It is not going to occur tomorrow, but we are certainly marching towards that day."
At present, between $10 billion and $1-2 billion of that comes in the U.s.. Gross sales from traditional porn films is shrinking, though, due to piracy and an abundance of free content on the world wide web.
(Examine more: HIV/AIDS brings porn commerce group under fire)
Variegation is a fast growing trend in the business. Studios who depend exclusively on DVD sales have generally gone from business. Several of the survivors have beefed-up their video-on-demand offerings to make use of the growing online marketplace. Others have branched into physical merchandise, such as sex toys or lube.
While some porn firms may have goodwill, the sector as a whole could use some function.
Few have developed in as Vivid as numerous directions, though. The studio perhaps best known for its ongoing line of celeb sex tapes established a satellite radio station on Sirius this twelvemonth, saw its Vivid TV become obtainable in 70 million homes and licensed its name to a number of cabarets in Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Los Angeles and (after this month) New York City.
Before 2013, it had been three years because the industry saw a positive HIV diagnosis. And while many insiders say the porn business's internal screening system did what it was purported to do--catch the diagnosis early and ensure that performers didn't infect others --some execs say they're still uneasy.
"When you've got three moratoriums in a year and you also eat your cache of pictures, it has an effect," claims Steve Orenstein, president and operator of Wicked Pictures--the only important pornography studio which uses condoms in every one of its pictures. "Obviously, there's nothing that has occured in the last year to shift our choice to stay with condoms. If anything, it has solidified it."
(Read more: Condoms in Porn? Merely another day at Wicked Pictures)
2013 saw more consolidation in the sector, the most noteworthy of which was the merging of Manwin and RedTube --two of the largest online operators in the industry. The combined company now controls the vast majority of the porno 'tv' websites, (think Youtube for pornography), which stream live content and XXX clips.
Many in the industry blame the tv sites for the industry's woes, noting they are often stuffed with pirated content, which is offered to consumers at no cost. Television websites pick up advertising revenue from pageview, but the producers of the pictures earn nothing.
The company name was soon changed by Manwin to Mind Dweeb.
Insiders say they anticipate more buyouts this year to happen --and more businesses to go under.
"I think there is more to merge and we'll find that happen in 2014 and continue," claims Hirsch.
(Study more: Pornography's hottest stars)
"I do not think the business is any better than it was a year past," states Wosick. "But they're not any worse than the usual twelvemonth ago either. I do believe [the occasions of 2013] may have driven it to be somewhat more self-reflective. Studios have had to undertake some issues they have had to prevent the past several years and been made to simply take stock with how they exist in this present day market--and present day moral atmosphere. ... I believe 2014 might function as year the industry comes together."
Despite the consolidation, moratoriums and ongoing legal uncertainties, both insiders and external observers say the porno industry really weathered a rough year fairly well. Owner Scott Taylor says New Sensations did better in 2013 the previous couple of years than it gets. And Hirsch says Vivid's sales are strong.
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