How Tube Sites Took Over the Porn Industry

Want to know how tube sites have affected the adult industry?

The global porn industry is estimated to be worth over $97 billion per year and includes both the internet and traditional media. Since the start of the world wide web just a few decades ago, porn has become more mainstream and can now be accessed from the comfort of your own home. Not only that but the rise of tube sites has meant that most porn is now available without any charges. Popular sites like Pornhub and XNXX receive more visitors than Netflix but, unlike the popular video on demand service, most of their adult content is free.

In this feature, we take a look at the rise of tube sites and what the future holds for the adult industry as well as take a look at the stats behind the success of popular websites like XVideos, YouPorn and XHamster.

The Rise of Tube Sites

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of some spare time must be in want of some porn…and, since the birth of the modern internet in the 1990s, it’s online that the majority of porn is now consumed.

The porn industry was initially thrilled with the concept of being able to deliver its content via the web and the internet very rapidly became a place where premium porn sites thrived. However, if you wanted to see porn online, you had to pay for it.

By the end of the 1990s, the porn industry was doing bigger business than Hollywood. Traditional media such as VHS and DVDs were still a viable format and the rise in popularity of digital porn was adding to an already lucrative market.

Yet in just one decade the face of online porn was about to change.

Porn bookmarking sites were already popular with dedicated archivists like Patrick Terwee from the Netherlands painstakingly curating lists of free porn clips. His site, TheHun.net was set up in 1995 and is still going strong and makes it the oldest free porn sharing site on the internet.

In 2005, the revolutionary video sharing platform, YouTube, was launched and the idea was an almost instant success. Amateur filmmakers could easily share their videos with the world, connecting audiences with shared interests and broadcasting in a way that was previously unheard of. However, YouTube had strict rules on the content that could be shared and it quickly became obvious that an alternative and more adult version of the platform was in high demand.

In 2006, YouPorn was launched to fill this gap in the market and was swiftly followed by Pornhub, Redtube and XVideos in 2007.

pornhub takes over the porn industry

Porn tube sites like Pornhub are now more popular worldwide than sites like ebay, Yandex and MSN. Image via Flickr.

The idea was simple, amateurs could upload their own videos in exactly the same way as they could to YouTube only these sites allowed hardcore pornographic content.

Initially, the uploads to these sites were mostly from amateurs and the quality wasn’t great. Though the porn was free, the clips were often too short (or far too long) and had poor images and sound. However, the fall in the cost and wider accessibility of better quality imaging equipment has meant that amateur porn (in some instances) is comparable to the studio quality of 1990s porn. Some dedicated amateur producers have even invested in more superior equipment, even using third party cameramen to get all the angles. In a nutshell, tube sites very quickly offered a playground for amateur porn directors and performers.

Initially, the porn studios weren’t that concerned about these upstart hosting sites. The belief was typically elitist and it was thought that the appeal of free porn of a substandard quality would quickly wane.

But this has not been the case.

The demand for instant hardcore sex without paying for it has been hard to compete with and the porn studios began to see a significant drop in sales for premium porn, both in terms of traditional media such as DVDs but also via the online markets.

The solution was an obvious one; if you can’t beat them, join them.

tube sites vs porn studios

Porn studios no longer have a monopoly of the porn markets as more of us watch adult content for free. Image via Wikimedia.

Professional porn networks now utilise the hosting capacity and audience reach of the major tube sites by publishing clips from their full-length scenes in an effort to capture a share of some of this huge market.

And the porn tube site market is enormous. The top three porn sites in the world share a combined monthly audience of over 11 billion visits meaning that for every person on planet earth, there are 1.5 hits to a porn tube site each month.

Popularity of Porn Tube Sites: The Stats

According to the most recent SimilarWeb stats, of the top ten adult websites in the world, the top six are porn tube sites, namely:

Site Global Ranking (All Websites Approx. Monthly Visitors Type of Content
1 – Xvideos 5 4.57 billion Free Porn
2 – XNXX 6 3.75 billion Free Porn
3 – Pornhub 14 3.04 billion Free Porn
4 – XHamster 34 1.26 billion Free Porn
5 – Redtube 81 609 million Free Porn
6 – YouPorn 112 398 million Free Porn
7 – Chaturbate 119 293 million Live Cams
8 – QuizzStar 123 254 million Adult Lifestyle
9 – DMM.co.jp 126 236 million Adult Games
10 – e-hentai 171 94 million Free Hentai Porn

There are thousands of tube sites around the world, some offering niche content curated for specific tastes but all offering free access to (mostly amateur or pirated) porn.

By comparison, of the top fifty adult websites, the highest ranked premium porn website is the Brazzers Network (21st in Adult, 309th in the world) with a paltry 193 million monthly visitors!

XVideos and XNXX are more popular than Twitter, Wikipedia and Instagram and Pornhub is visited more frequently than Amazon.

In their latest, ‘Year in Review’ report, Pornhub revealed that, in 2017, more than 4 million videos were uploaded to their site. The combined length of these clips exceeds 68 years of continuous content! With such a huge archive it’s little wonder that the amount of data transferred from Pornhub is more than 10 million GB per day, enough data to fill up the memory of every iPhone in the world.

Though the stats are impressive, they also reveal why the future of tube sites is precarious.

There is no quality control over the content being uploaded to sites like YouPorn, Pornhub and XNXX and a good proportion of the videos you can view are duplicates, pirated or of a poor quality. Frequent mis-tagging can mislead audiences about the content and though there is no doubting the size of the archives offered for free by tube sites, bigger is not always better as audiences begin to turn to quality over quantity.

free porn tube hosting site

Any search for ‘free porn’ will bring up the tube sites first. Image via Google.

Who Owns the Porn Tube Sites?

If you had to make a wild stab in the dark as to where the controlling wealth of porn tube sites was being held, most people would point the finger at the USA. However, all six of the top adult websites in the world and the most popular tube sites are all owned by European companies.

The top two adult websites in the world, XNXX and XVideos are reportedly owned by a Polish company, WGCZ Holdings. There is a spidery network of holding companies, private registrars and individuals linking the two sites but this Polish company is reported to be worth over $100 million.

MindGeek owns three of the top ten adult websites in the world including Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn. They also operate Tube8, Porn MD and XTube. Interestingly, they are behind the top premium porn site on the world ranking, Brazzers Network.

Originally set-up by the German, Fabian Thylmann, and now headquartered in Luxembourg, MindGeek is reported to be worth in excess of $750 million.

XHamster is owned by another European business, Hammy Media Limited. Not such a household name but one that is worth around $62 million. The business is registered in Cyprus.

The Future of Porn Tube Sites

The rise of the tube sites is about more than just the cost and though free porn is an obvious draw it is also indicative of a change in the appetite for porn.

Tube sites offer a wider range of content with ‘real’ performers. On the same site, you can pick up BDSM scenes alongside teen, MILF and lesbian. Hardcore mingles with softcore and even fet-fans will find niche material to enjoy.

The traditionally glamorous and ‘silicone’ world of professionally shot porn may offer high-quality production but, for some, it’s a bit too ‘Hollywood’.

porn tube sites vs porn industry sites

To stay in the game, porn studios need to invest in new technologies and offer something different. Image via Wikimedia.

Studio porn still has an appeal for those who prefer more of a storyline to their adult content and there is yet to be an amateur contributor who produces VR movies.

Tube sites are currently riding high on a wave of popularity forged almost entirely on the founding principles of ‘stack it high, sell it cheap’. Experience tells us that this kind of attitude cannot be sustained and there is already a more discerning audience emerging as people, once again, start to demand premium, and exclusive, porn.

We already know that the price that we pay for free porn is seen in diminished quality, duplicated content and the ever-increasing number of ads and pop-ups.

In an effort to cater for visitors who want more porn, less ads and better quality, Pornhub launched a Premium service in 2017. For $9.99 a month, subscribers can get access to exclusive content without the ads as well as being able to access studio quality titles.

XHamster has a pay-per-view Premium selection with high quality videos available to purchase on demand from as little as $5.

It won’t be long until all the tube sites have a similar service for more discerning porn viewers.

As for the future of the professional porn industry? Adult studios have always been at the forefront of new technology and it is in the development of virtual reality that will really secure their future.

Big name production teams are already pioneering new filming techniques (including virtual reality) and this kind of technology is just not available to amateurs yet.

However, they will need to continue to be inventive to stay in the game as live cam sites and tube sites will no doubt be snapping at their heels once the cost of VR filming starts to fall.

future of porn industry tube sites

Professional porn studios have the edge with VR and they can work with tube sites to market new material. Image via MaxPixel.

The porn industry is far from out of the game and currently produces more than 13,000 films each year; 21.5 times the output of Hollywood. Combined, the studios make more than $15 billion in annual profits which is more than the GDP of small countries like Botswana, Albania and Jamaica.

As long as porn studios continue to push the boundaries of new technologies and keep discovering fresh talent, there is no reason why free tube sites and porn studios can’t rub along together for the foreseeable future.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Staff Writer

1 Comment

  1. A major stretch to consider Chaturbate a tube site, although it’s traffic is up to par with them. People in the AV community are claiming that Washington DC is proposing similar AV legislation that the UK passed. That could very much be the fall of tubes, as the easiest AV solution is to put everything behind a paywall again. Also, never trust any estimates on what the industry is worth. So much black money and they never account for the entire industry. Great post though!