Who are the top ten adult entertainment companies in the world today?
The porn industry is one of the most lucrative markets in the world and generates almost $100 billion each year; that’s more than the GDP of Panama and Slovenia put together. The market is huge and generates more films and more profit than Hollywood. From DVDs to print media, online tube sites to sex toys and merchandising, the adult entertainment industry is thriving.
In this feature we take a look at the top ten companies that contribute the most to the porn market both in terms of money and reputation.
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Adult Entertainment Companies: Who Are They?
Despite the fact that the material they produce is widely available, well marketed and easy to find, most of the companies producing pornography are not that easy to understand when it comes to their ownership and structure.
Many of the adult entertainment companies behind the powerhouses of internet porn are owned by holding companies, linked to defunct businesses and are listed with offshore headquarters. No doubt much of this is linked to the legality of their operations with porn being legislated with varying degrees of censorship across the world. It would be hard not to be cynical about the financial benefits that may come with these complex structures and some may certainly be established in this way to avoid heavy taxation.
In short, many big names in the porn industry are doing all they can to remain as invisible as possible.
What is true is that following the breadcrumbs of some of these companies is a tricky business but we think we’ve managed to pull together a list of the top ten list of the most influential, largest and profitable adult entertainment businesses in the world.
Top 10 Adult Entertainment Companies
There is no yardstick by which to measure the success of an adult entertainment company better than wealth but we can’t ignore the power of brand recognition and influence. In addition, the term ‘adult entertainment’ can cover many media formats so we’ve tried to include a mix of companies who reach a wide range of audiences including traditional publishing, online content as well as through films (either on-demand or via hard format DVDs).
So, without further ado, here are our top ten picks for the most influential, successful and important adult entertainment companies in the world today.
The first on our list is not a name that many people recognise but this privately held company headquartered in Luxembourg is one of the kingpins of the online porn industry. MindGeek own and operate some of the world’s top adult sites including:
|Website||Adult Website Ranking||Global Website Ranking|
Source: SimilarWeb (Data correct as at 20 November 2017)
As you can see from the above stats, these websites don’t just rank highly in the porn markets but are also some of the top websites in the world.
Porn Hub receives more traffic that the likes of Amazon, Instagram and ebay. In fact, the site receives a monthly 3.42 billion hits and with each visit lasting 10 minutes and 25 seconds the site is responsible for streaming monthly content that would take 65,068 years to watch!
Founded in 2004, MindGeek employs over 1000 people and is reported to be worth over $750 million.
The company also owns the MyDirtyHobby website and the film producers Reality Kings, Digital Playground and Men.com
Larry Flynt Publications
The founder of the Hustler magazine Larry Flynt could little have known how vast his empire would become when he first launched his top shelf magazine in 1974. The spin-off subsidiaries from LFP Inc. now include sex shops, strip clubs and the production of pornographic films.
Despite a downturn in recent years of traditional print publishing, Hustler still reaches a large global audience. However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the company’s influence across the board and LFP Inc. is responsible for several other print tiles, including:
- Barely Legal
- Asian Fever
- Hustler XXX
- Hustler’s Chic Magazine
- Hustler’s Leg World
In addition, the company owns strip clubs in three countries as well as a dedicated pornographic film studio, Hustler Video.
The company was founded in 1976 and now employs more than 300 people with an estimated worth of around $500 million
This company needs little in the way of an introduction and will be no surprise to anyone on this list. Playboy Enterprises is not only one of the most well known adult brands in the world but one of the most recognised brands of any kind. The infamous bunny logo has controversially been applied to merchandise including clothing ranges marketed to the under 18s, household goods and even toiletries. No company on this list comes close to achieving a similar level of market dominance.
The company employs around 160 people though the extent of subsidiary operations makes them a much larger organisation. The organisation extends to a publishing group, entertainment group (includes Spice Network, Playboy Online and Playboy TV) and a licensing group. The latter handles all of the merchandising that features the Playboy logo.
Despite mitigating their decline in sales from traditional publishing with a new online presence, Playboy Enterprises reported a total revenue of $215 million in 2010.
It is the licensing group that sells the global brand of Playboy which generates the greatest proportion of the company’s wealth with annual sales exceeding $1 billion. The profit from this represents 50% of Playboy Enterprises’ revenue.
Private Media Group
The company behind the popular hardcore Swedish magazine, Private, the Private Media Group is another international company with fingers in every adult pie.
Founded in Sweden, based in Spain but incorporated in Nevada, US, the company is best known for producing mega-budget porn movies such as the multi-award winning two part series, Millionaire. Reportedly using up a budget of $1.6 million to create, the film earned 16 nominations at the Venus Awards in 2004. In total the company has won over 130 awards from the adult industry.
Despite having a global reach and asserting a defining influence in the industry, the Private Media Group employs just 38 people.
Total revenue for the group exceeds $8 million with total equity of around $12 million all achieved through sales of its DVDs, magazines and range of sex toys. The company also dabbles in online dating services and a clothing range. Perhaps the most profitable and reliable income stream comes from their hotel Pay Per View services.
From the humble beginnings of a man who sold colour sets of nude photos from his father’s shop in the 1960s, Berth Milton Sr could little have imagined how much the company would grow. Milton’s vision of producing the world’s first full colour adult magazine was the first step on this path and he should thank his secretary who, owing to budget constraints, bravely stepped in to appear on the first cover of Private magazine in 1965.
Hammy Media Limited
Though not a household name in itself, most people will recognise the link of this company to its biggest product line; xHamster.
The 4th most visited adult website in the world and ranking globally as the 34th largest website by traffic, xHamster.com receives over 1.4 billion hits each month.
The company is headquartered in Cyprus but has a global reach which regularly places it in the top 50 websites in countries as diverse as French Polynesia (26th most popular website) and Sri Lanka (10th most popular website).
As well as receiving an income from its members and through advertising the website has spawned many spin-off streams of revenue including a sex doll (xHamsterina) and a Belgian beer.
Owing to the way the company is set up it is unclear how much Hammy Media Limited is actually worth but conservative estimates place this in the order of $62.2 million.
Referring back to our opening statement about the invisible hands behind some adult companies, WGCZ Holdings is one such example. A Polish registered company, WGCZ Holdings is a spider’s web of associate companies, listed registrars and individuals, all of whom are linked to owning two of the biggest adult websites in the world; XVideos and XNXX.
The two domains are currently ranked the 1st and 2nd biggest adult content websites in the world and together receive over 8 billion views each month. Both receive more traffic than Twitter and Netflix with more visits each month than there are humans on planet earth. They are the worlds 5th and 12th most popular websites and both are owned (or so it would seem) by this unassuming company.
The trail of WGCZ Holdings goes a little dry after several false leads but ultimately it would appear that the company is in the hands of Stephane Michael Pacaud and Deborah Malorie Pacaud. Both are French and the only things we know for sure are:
- They are both incredibly private people who have a lot of money to ensure that they remain so;
- When offered $120 million for the rights to XVideos, they were reportedly quoted as saying:
“Sorry, I have to go and play Diablo II”
It is unclear how much the company is worth and how this revenue is distributed among its holdings but with the sheer volume of traffic generated by its (known) websites, this can be expected to exceed $300 million.
Not forgetting our Asian markets nor the traditional powerhouses behind the adult industry, Japanese owned company Core Magazine Co. Limited is estimated to be worth in the order of $52 million.
Founded in 1985, the Tokyo based company is focused on producing Hentai Manga, adult magazines and ‘yaoi’ titles. It has successfully beaten off much online competition to remain one of Japan’s leading adult companies and also operates a successful chain of specialist book shops.
The company employs around 140 people and has consistently been one of the top producers of erotic manga in the world.
AVN Media Network
Perhaps not the most profitable company on the list but certainly one of the most influential, the AVN Media Network is one of the industry’s leading trade organisations. Most people will be familiar with the annual events hosted by the company; the prestigious AVN Awards.
The company’s primary focus is in online publishing and serving as a source of industry news whilst also operating an events management company.
As well as the AVN Awards they also organise the following internationally acclaimed events:
- Internext Las Vegas
- Erotica LA
- AVN Novelty Expo
- AVN Adult Entertainment Expo
- Webmaster Access Amsterdam
As well as publishing news and information about the industry on their flagship website, AVN.com, they also produce and manage content for GAYVN and gfy.com
Employing around 65 people, the AVN Media Network has a good deal of influence over the shape of the porn industry via its awards and associated events.
Founded in 1982, the company is based in California.
Paul Raymond Publishing
It would be hard not to tip a nod to the world of publishing in this list and though we’ve already covered the US (and global) markets reached by Playboy and Hustler we wanted to turn our attention to the British adult entertainment industry.
Paul Raymond was a British ‘spiv’ or racketeer, selling goods on the black market in Britain during World War II. In 1958, following several forays into the world of ‘showbusiness’ he opened a private strip club in Soho, London. His disdain for the first legalised strip venue in the city led him to open the Raymond Revue Bar and within two years had accumulated a membership of 45,000 patrons.
His success in Soho was followed in 1974 when he purchased a languishing men’s magazine, Men Only which was the founding title in what was to grow to become the UK’s largest adult magazine empire.
Paul Raymond Publishing (owned by Blue Active Media Ltd) owns most of the top ten best selling pornographic titles in the UK including Razzle, Escort, Club International, Mayfair and Swing Mag.
Despite a decline in traditional print sales the company still has a revenue in excess of $26 million and operates a highly successful online offering for its members for more hardcore content.
Vivid Entertainment is one of a handful of studios that dominates the US porn studio networks and has the privilege of having won more AVN Awards than any other production house.
Founded in 1984, the company is often cited as one of the top adult entertainment businesses in the world. This may be due to its diverse output which includes a range of sex toys, clothing and brand licensing (including snowboards) or simply due to its high quality pornographic film content. Whatever the reason, Vivid Entertainment (headed by Steven Hirsch) enjoys a reputation that many competitors would kill for.
This same reputation allows the studios access to some of the industry’s top names. Known as ‘Vivid Girls’, the following performers have all had contracts with Vivid Entertainment:
- Asia Carrera
- Nina Mercedez
- Nikki Jayne
- Chasey Lain
- Brian Banks
- Tera Patrick
- Savanna Samson
- Hanna Hilton
The company is also credited with introducing some of the biggest names in porn to the viewing public. Without Vivid Entertainment, the world may not have seen the talents of Jenna Jameson, Sunny Leone, Kobe Tai and Christy Canyon. Whether they make the most money on this list or not is irrelevant, for this alone, we stand in awe.
The company also specialises in bringing the celebrity sex scandal to the public’s attention and has been the first to buy the rights to the sex tapes of Kim Kardashian and Pamela Anderson.
Owner and founder, Hirsch, was reported to offer the future Queen of England’s sister (Pippa Middleton) a whopping $5 million to appear in a porno movie. With an estimated revenue of $100 million, Vivid could definitely afford this price tag but sadly the offer has not been taken up.