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September 07, 2016

Industry Preps for 'Free Porn Day' on Sept. 8

This article originally ran in the September 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition. What if all porn was free online, including the top paysites on the planet, and consumers could just go watch whatever they want? That may sound like a fan's dream, but thanks to some innovative minds FreePornDay.com is becoming a business reality on September 8, 2016—and the hope is that it will do a lot of good for the bottom line of many adult site owners. In an industry that has always been dominated by bold moves and outside-the-box thinkers, Free Porn Day is the newest tactic designed to teach fans about the joys of high-end porn and the value of paying to see it any time you want. "Free Porn Day started as a seed of an idea at Evil Angel," explained Adam Grayson, chief financial officer at Evil Angel. "Our VP of Product Chris Gentile said, 'Man, wouldn’t it be great to have all those tube-only users take the Pepsi Challenge for a day to see what they’re missing?' "The more companies we approached about it, the more positive the reaction. Do we think we’re changing the business? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However, it’s important to experiment, especially when trying to reach potential customers that are pretty much off the grid for membership and VOD sites. The most exciting thing has been the communal energy of 20-plus companies working together to build a great event that fans will really enjoy. Our team believes that the quality of tubes has declined tremendously due to better policing. That’s good for content owners, and bad for tubes. I don’t think a lot of their users have quite realized it yet, however, and hopefully this juxtaposition shakes something loose." The reality is that in the early days of the free tube era, there was a massive amount of piracy that put all the best porn out in the open for fans to watch for free and download any way they wanted. That era was actually relatively short lived, in large part because so many studios and shooters felt the financial pinch and opted to license their content on to brokers or the tubes themselves for pennies on the dollar of what content used to cost. For quite a while the tubes provided the same or better viewing experience as most paysites because they had access to such a massive amount of top-shelf content. Sure, there were some user-uploaded files, but the bulk of what drove traffic to the tubes were the same high-quality videos that used to convert tour visitors into paying customers for paysite networks. In the last couple years porn companies have consolidated; litigation has made running user-uploaded content sites more difficult; and the top studios have started to pull back from the tubes and are licensing older scenes, lower-quality content and shorter clips than before in an effort to make their paid content portfolios more desirable. Most of these changes are happening in the background, and the average porn fan is unlikely to have taken notice of just how much better paid porn has become than most free site offerings. To give you an idea of just how stark the difference really is, take note of the fact that free tubes have started buying entire production studios or launching their high-end niche labels to feed quality content to their fan base in an attempt to blur the difference between free and paid content quality. That's where this Free Porn Day initiative may gain the most traction: by enticing free fans to visit paysites and watch the very best content produced recently without having to pay a single penny. The air of transparency also helps to convince fans that purchasing memberships is safe, secure and likely to lead to a satisfying collection of content worth craving each time they sign up. "We will be participating in Free Porn Day," said Michael H. Klein, president of broadcasting and internet for Vivid Entertainment Group. 'Our content will be free, but we will require credit card data since we feel that is the best way to verify that someone is over 18 years old before viewing the site. The Free Porn Day initiative is a test marketing experiment. We think it is a good idea to make people aware that if they want true high-quality premium content in its full form, there is an associated cost in order to ensure that we can continue to supply new content. We applaud the effort to try something fresh to attract a wider audience and we will just have to wait and see if it is successful over time." Since Free Porn Day is an opt-in idea that includes a loose consortium of companies rather than one or two brands, each participating site is free to use whatever definition of free they choose. Some of the sites we spoke with are requiring credit card information, others want an email registration, and some are not going to ask for any user data whatsoever when fans come to have a free look inside. There is debate among site owners as to the best way to implement Free Porn Day, but there is also a desire to share their experiences and a general sense that if all goes well this may become the start of an annual or semi-annual event where the best practices will eventually become a standard used by every company involved. Some onlookers pointed out the short notice in the timeline as an issue that caused them not to participate. "While we heard about Free Porn Day, we unfortunately won't be able to participate in this event this year,§ explained Axel Vézina, COO of CrakRevenue. "We find the idea really interesting. It's a great concept! The thing is, we're currently really busy focusing on future projects so extensively that we've had no time to plan anything else. It's really just a bad-timing issue for us. But it's a great marketing idea for sure. I think the companies that participate in this will see some great numbers in the short term off of the coverage and exposure. However, I don't think it will drastically increase the business in the long run. Indeed though, the 'freemium' model is becoming more and more prevalent, it's a smart way to get the paysites to join the party!" Others on the fringe of the adult content business see Free Porn Day as a good thing for adult industry sites overall. "There can be a fine line between porn and casual dating but while the two can complement one another, it's important to remember that they are different services," Steve Pammenter, CEO of White Label Dating, pointed out. "It's hard to strike a balance between the two in a way that doesn't alienate either user group. We won't be participating in Free Porn Day this year for that reason, but anything that makes people talk more openly about the adult industry is positive so we're supportive of this initiative." From the free tube perspective, Free Porn Day is more evolutionary than revolutionary. "McDonald's does their Free Coffee for quite some time and it is a good tactic to get their new line out there," remarked Yannick Ferreri, PornDoe head of business development. "They marketed it hard, and pushed it free so that everyone would get a taste. Since then they really haven't done so. I think Free Porn Day is great for new launches, or at the very least, new users. We believe that any person who feels entitled to this offer should be kind enough to divulge valid email and CC information. This gives the product a chance to market to him and allows him a more seamless subscription process when he decides to come on board." For most it's about getting the word out to fans, and if a picture is worth a million words—and videos are worth even more than that, then the amount of amazing adult movies that will be available online during Free Porn Day on September 8 should get the point across to fans quite conclusively. "I heard about this through the grapevine some time ago, and immediately committed our company to it," Steven Grooby of Grooby.com said proudly. "It’s something new, and anything that can get more eyes on our websites and more potential mainstream promotion, for a relatively small investment of time, is worth having a go. We won’t be opening the whole site for free, I think that could be a bit of a slap in the face for paying customers, but we’ll be selecting a number of scenes from each of our websites to give away for free on a separate platform.  "We produce 180 to 200 scenes a month so to give away 100 free scenes shouldn’t have any negative effect. Ideally, we’ll be collecting emails and offering discounted sales on full access. I’ve seen a few negative comments from the industry but the positive ones seem to come from more qualified companies and individuals who are committed to the long-term health of their companies, rather than bemoaning over their failures." There is a lot of work to be done in the area of re-educating consumers to pay for digital content, since a whole generation has grown up in the Napster, porn tubes, and file lockers era. One look at the death of good shows on television, short list of quality films in movie theaters each year, reduction of real news services and weak, outdated, incomplete porn clips online for free, and it starts to become clear that content is worth paying for, if you want to see the very best. Free Porn Day is a chance for the industry to prove it.

 
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