Pornography online has not decreased in popularity; social networking, Hollywood, David Duchovny, and the Howard Stern gang have helped to increase its popularity. Here is a global snapshot of the porn and sex for sale business today

A recent online search study by Bill Tancer has found that because search terms used for pornography have decreased in the past ten years, and search terms used for social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook have increased, that on-line pornography usage has decreased. What a great way for Mr. Tancer to get publicity for his new book. While I appreciate his research, I would like to provide a broad perspective on the business of pornography today.


According to a recent review of Tancer’s book by Wired Magazine, “Tancer’s new book “Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters,” analyzes search trends of 10 million Internet users in the U.S. , (see chart below).” From this study Tancer has concluded that porn searches have fallen 10% from 20% a decade ago.

Wired went onto conducted their own search experiment and produced the following results: the Wired study found that “in a comparison of the terms “sex”, “porn,” MySpace,” “YouTube” and “Facebook” shows MySpace and YouTube skyrocketing above the lot with Facebook well on its way up as well.”
Search engines used in the Wired study:
1. lyrics
2. myspace
3. yahoo
4. weather
5. games
6. google
7. youtube
8. ebay
9. mapquest

Wired’s conclusion was that “While they may account for quite a bit, searches don’t necessarily translate into traffic. While the rise of social networks may give people more options online, until Facebook and MySpace jump into the X-rated realm it’s hard to believe that porn is facing that much of a downturn.
Perhaps the decrease in searches is just due to the fact that the porn industry and its consumers are getting smarter. As TechCrunch has pointed out, new YouTube-like porn video and microblogging sites (both links are to TechCrunch posts, i.e., SFW) have spawned, aggregating content to a central location. No need to search if you can go directly to the source.”

A comment following Wired’s article and search engine study:
“Bottom line: just because people are searching less on large search engines does not mean that the demand is dwindling. The whole hype about niche services, specialized portals, and targeted advertisement should point into that direction, too. Maybe people know after one or two searches where to go to, like pornotube, timtube, redtube, youporn, etc. and search there. Maybe SEO placement and analysis and “conversion” optimization works better for porn than for social networks, where most people are still clueless and have to search instead of discover.” Thorsten Claus – posted in Wired follow-up comment

Time Magazine

The Porn Factor

An article on pornography and relationships by Time Magazine, suggests that “ In a 2001 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 70% of 15-to 17-year-olds said they had accidentally come across pornography online.” And that       preteens and teens have replaced National Geographic and Penthouse for online pornography viewing. “Pornography is affecting people at an increasingly young age,” says sociologist Diana Russell, who has written several books on the subject. “And unfortunately for many kids growing up today, pornography is the only sex education they’ll get.”
Yet most users say sex online is nothing more than good (if not quite clean) fun. “According to a 2001 online survey of 7,037 adults, two thirds of those studied visit websites with sexual content…,” three-quarters report “masturbating while online, and majority of respondents—85% to 90%—according to Cooper, who heads the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Center, which conducted the study, are what he calls “recreational users,” people who view pornography as a curiosity or diversion.”

Hollywood, California

Fox News Blames Internet, Los Angeles for David Duchovny’s Sex Addiction. If David Duchovny is any barometer of the popularity of internet porn, it is still very much alive and well. David recently check himself into rehab for what is called “sex addiction.” David currently is the star of SHO Times Golden Globe winning Californication, which is  nominated for two Emmy Awards. Some reports believe that one of his problems was spending time on Internet porn sites.

Photo source

Howard Stern’s on-line web site, does it qualify as pornography? You decide. Also note that it is safe to say that Stern’s fans search for his web site through a direct search method, not a random porn query.

Link to the Stern website

The demand for various types on-line porn programming is reflected in the following viewer numbers, Howard Stern on Fox News…

“Multichannel News (March 9, 2006) reports that Howard Stern’s interview on “Hannity & Colmes” was pure platinum for the Fox News Channel:

Fox News Channel’s two-part interview with Howard Stern Tuesday and Wednesday made Hannity & Colmes the top news show in the adults 25-54 demo for both days, averaging 507,000 of those viewers (up 40% compared with its February average).


BNET stated that,” Howard Stern has been credited with changing the face of radio with his top-rated morning program. Certainly no radio personality has had the impact Stern has had with more than 20 years on the air. His dominance in the important 18-49 male demographic stands alone. A continuous radio market leader from coast to coast, he has registered superior ratings year after year in markets large and small.”

London’s off-street sex industry

London Revealed: the truth about brothels
A survey into London’s off-street sex industry has exposed just how widespread it is.

In Julie Bindel’s recent 2008 off-line brothel report, she finds that the business of sex is flourishing. The study was conducted through 120 hours of telephone calls to London’s brothel workers. She states that “at least 1,933 women are at work in London’s brothels; ages range from 18 to 55 (with several premises offering “very, very young girls. I would imagine that many of these Brothels have an online component (including webcams) to their business model.

Many of the businesses (85%) conduct their business in residential areas. “Almost two-thirds are located in flats and more than one-fifth are in a house. Wherever you are in the city, the likelihood is that buying and selling women is going on under your nose.”
“Our researchers contacted only brothels that advertised in local newspapers – not those that advertise on websites or on cards in telephone boxes. Because of this we only uncovered the tiniest corner of the trade. But we still encountered brothels in every London borough, with Enfield (a typical residential area of north London) having a minimum of 54, and Westminster at least 71. We estimated that the brothels we surveyed made anything from £86m to £209.5m in total per year through newspaper advertisements alone.”

In England it is a criminal offence to advertise prostitution services, apparently the law is not enforced, and this applies to pimps and punters well.

New York City
In a 2008 article by Jessica Pilo titled, Secrets of a New York City Hipster Hooker Jessica reports that her friends are “stylish, well-educated, and professionally successful young women in New York City. They also turn tricks on the side for $2,000 an hour. One day she decided to follow in their footsteps.” What about the use of camcorders in this business?

District of Columbia
PC World reported 2008 that nine city employees in the District of Columbia had been fired for using government computers to visit an “egregious” number of pornographic Web sites in 2007.
The action comes after a month long investigation of the computer usage habits of municipal employees by the city’s Chief Technology Officer, according to a statement released by Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office.

Belfast via India

The Belfast Telegraph reported that India’s online comic strip porn lures thousands. Known for strict conservatism, India was the birthplace of erotica, famed for its sensual literature and carvings. “India’s cultural gifts to the world include the Kama Sutra and the sexually charged carvings that lure and intrigue tourists at Khajuraho. But the country’s reputation today is a much more conservative, buttoned-up society where couples risk opprobrium even for something as chaste as daring to hold hands in public.”

Little surprise then, perhaps, at the roaring success of 21st century India’s most recent contribution to the world of eroticism. The country’s first online pornographic comic book strip is luring tens of thousands of Internet viewers, who are logging on for a daily dose of stimulation and humor courtesy of the buxom.” Savita Bhabhi.

*There are also many BOLLYWOOD HARDCORE INDIAN PORN online sites.


Nigerian pupils browse porn on donated laptops
Reuters 2007 -ABUJA, – Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptops from a U.S. aid organization have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet, the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported on Thursday.

NAN said its reporter had seen pornographic images stored on several of the children’s laptops.
“Efforts to promote learning with laptops in a primary school in Abuja have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials,” NAN said. A representative of the One Laptop Per Child aid group was quoted as saying that the computers, part of a pilot scheme, would now be fitted with filters.”


BBC Report – Demand for Asian Porn is growing
The demand for British Asian pornography is outstripping supply. In a culture where even talking about sex is taboo the appetite for Asian porn is insatiable.

Wikipedia pornography by global region

United States

Pornography generates billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone, and economists have suggested that it has now reached the point where the outlawing of the industry, which has been tried on many occasions, could have a major negative economic impact on the country, and a prohibition-style legislated ban might spark a rise in organized crime much similar to that of the prohibition ban on alcohol did. An estimated 211 new pornographic films are made every week in the United States. With pot and porn outstripping corn, America’s black economy is flying high, The Guardian


Pornography in India is illegal and attracts several penal provisions. However, enforcement is extremely lax and pornographic materials are easily available. The law also states that only the distribution of pornography is illegal, while its creation and gaining access to it is not. Therefore, it is legal to access a pornographic site hosted on non-Indian servers. Pornographic films in India are called Blue Films and are available virtually anywhere; especially in areas where pirated material is already being sold.


Many U.S.-centric pornography websites distribute or focus on content shot in Europe or featuring actors from European (particularly Eastern European) countries. These actors (often advertised as “Eurobabes”) may conform more to a look usually identified with U.S. actresses than European ones, although they may still be considered to look “more natural.”

East Asia

The three main producers of pornography in Asia are Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Japan has a large pornography industry


Indecent exposure in Indonesia
Recently, William Sparrow of Asia Times reported that Indonesian media have reported a several distribution operations involving Internet pornographic “photos of local celebrities, including a Parliament member and ordinary citizens caught in the act on camera.”

Sex, Lawsuits and Celebrities Caught on Tape

New York Times reported that “Paris Hilton sex tape, an explicit bedroom video shot by a former boyfriend. The DVD has sold some 600,000 copies, thousand of file sharing on-line. Her notoriety paradoxically catapulted her to an even higher orbit of fame, establishing her as a kind of postmodern celebrity, leading to perfume deals, a memoir and the covers of Vanity Fair and W.” These tapes were and are still broadcast online.

Creed frontman Scott Stapp and Kid Rock
Former Creed frontman Scott Stapp has reached a settlement in his lawsuit over a 1999 sex tape featuring the rocker and ex-pal Kid Rock romping with four groupies.

Rob Lowe

Joe Levy, the executive editor of Rolling Stone, which covered the brouhaha over the Rob Lowe tape in the 80’s, said, “The huge difference between nearly 20 years ago and now is that pornography is more easily available, therefore there is far less of a stigma attached to it.” Yes porn is more available now particularly on the Internet.


New York Times magazine July 6, 2008

New York Times writer Virginia Heffernan stated in her article that “YouTube has managed to chasten porn-uploaders enough that they’ve been forced to create their own counterparts to YouTube, like Pornotube and Eroshare.” What about webcams, mobile devices, and file sharing?


Deaf Porn Gives Viewers an Eye-Opener

Wired (Regina Lynn) reported on porn trends for the def. “When was the last time you tuned into the dialogue while watching porn? If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, maybe never.”

“While many a hearing person has muted a porn video, it’s nice to have a choice about what you want to hear — or see — and what you don’t. Deaf Bunny (NSFW), the first deaf-owned and deaf-staffed porn company, launched in August with the mission of making porn accessible to deafies and their hearing partners in as many forms as possible.
Through subtitles, sign language, cartoonish thought bubbles, full audio and blatant use of technology, anyone can understand the complex plot and tangled relationships portrayed in the company’s first DVD release, Naughty Deaf Roommates.”


Pete Townshend Avoids Kiddie Porn Charge

CBS News reported that “The musician Pete Townshend acknowledged using his credit card to enter a Web site, advertising child pornography but said he was doing research for his autobiography.”

CNET (2008)

Porn on a plane: Flight attendants want filters
“Readers of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents some 19,000 workers including American Airlines flight attendants, asked American Airline’s management this week to consider adding filters to its in-flight Wi-Fi access to prevent passengers from viewing porn and other inappropriate Web sites while in-flight.”

World anti child online porn movement (2008)
74 nations jointly crack down on child porn

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on an investigation in 74 countries including Japan, the United States and those in Europe, Southeast Asia and South America, to “ crackdown on child pornography video providers that use file-exchange software to distribute the images on the Internet,” The international police operation is designed to eradicate child porn, including video clips, which are proliferating over the Internet, sources said.

Online Porn

Latest and one of the fastest growing online porn company – built what is arguably the country’s most successful fetish porn company,

New York Times article states that “Acworth has since built what is arguably the country’s most successful fetish porn company, — a fast-growing suite of 10 S-and-M and bondage-themed Web sites, each updated weekly with a new half-hour or hour video segment. Kink has 60,000 subscribers; access to each site costs about $30 a month. Acworth founded Kink’s first site, Hogtied, while still at Columbia. He purchased licensed digital photographs for content, many of which were simply old bondage-magazine spreads, torn out and scanned. Almost immediately, Hogtied made several hundred dollars a day — then, with a few ads in place, more than a thousand.”

TI News (2008) states that “market research is relevant only to South America, and to “adult mobile content” which Signals Telecom Consulting estimates will be worth $US1.12 billion in that market by 2013. They tell us that Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela have the best images and video offering,” because in other countries ” in-house censorship imposed by the operators themselves is…holding back growth of this service. Google executives could not bring themselves to acknowledge, even when prompted by members of the press, that people might want to use Chrome’s anonymous browsing feature ‘Incognito’ to hide the fact that they have been visiting porn sites.”

As note in the above research, there are several possible reasons for the change in search engines numbers; here are some of the ways pornography is circulated throughout the world:

1. File sharing pc to pc
2. File sharing and down loading to mobile devices
3. Major porn sites are well known or established and many users do not have to search to find their favorite porn site
4. The Internet audience has grown over the past ten years, and the age of the internet user has changed. Now you have young and older users surfing the web, and using social networking sites. Before 2000 mostly hardcore pc users and people looking for general information used online search tools. Now the Internet user has matured, the number of users has increased, and they are more specific in their use of search terms
5. While social networking sites may receive many visitors because the number of users online has increased, Internet porn appears to be a thriving business globally
6. There are many high school age students, of both sexes actively viewing porn on the web and through filing sharing by mobile and PC
7. The Howard Stern Radio program is an indication of the overwhelming popularity of porn radio and on line porn
8. Bookmarking (a tool used by an online pc user) a web site will bring you right to a porn site without having to use a search term
9. Planes and airports are now spaces for a wide variety of Internet use, and these commuters are likely to be mature web users, and would know where to find a porn web site without using broad search terms
10. Webcams and mobile phone porn allows the user to broadcast or receive images from almost any location. Broad search terms use would not be necessary to locate a porn webcam broadcaster or receive mobile porn.

It is also clear that porn on and offline is still very popular throughout the world. While there may be a larger number of visitors to online social networking sites (because they are now attracting not only young users, but also the over 48 year old users including grandparents), porn usage is probably more popular today due to digital technology providing easy online access and file sharing. There are now new media channels and digital devices to search with, and receive pornographic content. It has also become common for preteens, teens, and adults to share pornographic material through their cell phones, or other digital devices.

I am not an expert on porn or porn sites, but I do know enough about online marketing, and the digital communications to determine that porn is a thriving business globally. It no longer requires you to own a computer to view it online, because today we have more communications devices to choose from that provide opportunities for porn to circulate as a viral message around the world.

By Peter Sabbagh

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