Porn: Broadband’s Elephant in the Room

A Happy Elephant
A Happy Elephant

Let’s start with a quick English lesson:

The elephant in the room’ – an English phrase which refers to ‘a major problem or controversial issue which is obviously present but is avoided as a subject for discussion.’

Now read the following quote from Cisco:

‘Mobile video will account for 69% of all mobile data by 2018’

I think the elephant in this room here is porn.

Mobile video is set to explode, with industry spending billions of pounds to increase mobile network capacity. To what extent is porn driving this increasing capacity demand?

Let’s stop ignoring the porn elephant in the broadband room and take a closer look at the role porn plays on bandwidth.

When taking a pseudo-academic look at porn stats I’m reminded of the quote ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’:

  • ‘37% of the internet is made up of pornographic material’
  •  ‘14% of searches and 4% of websites [are] devoted to sex’
  •  ‘8.5% of clicks in June were on legal pornography sites’ [UK, 2013]
  •  Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN and ESPN
  •  ‘30% of all data transferred across the Internet is porn’
  •  ‘YouPorn streams six times the bandwidth as Hulu’

With Vodafone’s Project Spring seeing £7billion invested in its networks, can we say that 30% or £2.1billion of Vodafone’s cash is just to help us watch porn, especially as reckon at peak time, Xvideos might burst to 1Tbps or more?

Granted, these stats are a little fluffy in the absence of robust analyst house stats. Nevertheless, the YouPorn claim is a strong one and got me thinking, ‘If we want Hulu to be a part of the industry debate on bandwidth, then why not YouPorn?’

Taking a look at YouPorn uncovered the company MindGeek who don’t just manage YouPorn, but dozens of huge streaming websites which generate 16 billion hits per month. Remembering that YouPorn alone is responsible for six times the bandwidth of Hulu, the discovery of MindGeek is like going fishing in your local village pond and catching Moby Dick.

Delving deeper into MindGeek I was pleasantly surprised to find genuine innovation around the challenges faced by our industry.

Want thought leadership in Big Data? Try MindGeek’s website (SFW but probably best viewed elsewhere!) which gives us answers to such questions as ‘Who watches more porn – Republicans or Democrats?’ as well as exploring the ‘Pornhub Traffic Change During Super Bowl XLVIII’ and providing in-depth national breakdowns into international consumption.

Or maybe Tivo and Spotify could learn from MindGeek’s content discovery engine, PornIQ, which ‘aims to conquer the issue of “too much porn” by quickly crafting playlists for whatever mood you’re in.’

This, in addition to MindGeek’s work in e-commerce, anti-fraud and attempting to limit their websites’ bandwidth impact, made me see MindGeek as an active contributor to the wider industry debate.

And as we have been lucky enough to confirm the CTO of MindGeek, Perry Stathopoulos as a keynote at this year’s Broadband World Forum, this is a debate that we will be able to have in full with no elephants to be seen this October.

Stay tuned for an in depth interview with Perry in the coming weeks. In the meantime keep warm with our interview with fellow elephant and keynote speaker Anna Troburg, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party.

Now, who’d like to join me on the hunt for some more elephants?


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