We’ve all heard of tube sites like Pornhub, XVideos and XHamster. But how did they come to exist?
Tube sites – some people love them, some people hate them, but everyone has heard of them.
Originally built on stolen porn, they were the enemy of the adult industry, making companies and creators lose a lot of money. On top of that, they created a big mess by allowing uploads from accounts that were not age verified and getting our industry in hot water as allegations about CSAM (child sexual abuse material) cropped up. Trafficking Hub, anyone?
But when, why and how did the tube sites truly appear? While Jon Ronson explores this topic in depth in his podcast “The Butterfly Effect”, I can give you a quick rundown on how it all began.
The YouTube of Porn
It all started with a man named Fabian Thylmann. Growing up in the 1990s, he discovered the world of online porn as a 16-year-old guy. Back then, most porn was still hidden behind paywalls and people on online forums often traded passwords to access porn sites for free.
As Thylmann approached his mid 20s, he started wondering why people were able to watch music videos for free on YouTube while internet porn was still hidden behind paywalls. It seemed like porn entrepreneurs were way behind, and he saw the opportunity to make a change. Thylmann’s first big move was acquiring a small porn company called Mansef which was later renamed to ManWin. Today it is known as MindGeek. When Thylmann bought Mansef, the company had recently invented Pornhub – the YouTube of porn.
Even in its earlier days, Pornhub was getting a million hits a day. Fans were actively stealing their favorite content to post it on the site. Although porn producers were demanding Mansef to take the stolen content down, and the company would comply, often the stolen content would pop back up on the site just hours later.
Piracy and Age Verification Issues
It seemed to be every porn viewer’s dream to have access to a huge library of adult content without having to give away their personal data.
In the 1990s, people had to call in to a switchboard to give their credit card details in order to sign up for a porn site, which was quite embarrassing for them. Fast-forward to modern days – free access to porn seems ideal, right? Well, not quite.
Perhaps, without the content piracy, tube sites would not exist today. However, the huge amount of pirated content also became their biggest weakness, which eventually was used against them. The permission of unverified uploads on sites like Pornhub opened the floodgates to illegal material such as CSAM (child sexual abuse material) and revenge porn. Which is how Pornhub ended up losing their credit card processing. And the rest is already history.
The Question of Ethics
Now, the question is – should we use tube sites? I think, it’s everyone’s personal choice. Were tube sites built on ethical grounds? Certainly not. Can they help you to grow your adult business? Quite likely.
Luckily, over the years, tube sites have designed creator programs that let us monetize our content better than before. And with this, they have become an integrated part of the adult industry. While free videos are more of a promotional tool that doesn’t bring in a ton of money, creators on platforms like XHamster and XVideos can still get paid for other things, such as Premium video views, fan club subscriptions and tips. And it can certainly be helpful to take the traffic tube sites have and funnel it to your pay sites if you chose to do so.
At the end of the day, it is up to you whether you want to use tube sites to grow your business. In my opinion, you are can succeed either way.
If you would like to enjoy a deep dive into the topic of tube sites and how they changed the adult industry, consider listening to Jon Ronson’s podcast ‘The Butterfly Effect’ which is available on Acast for free. And, if you want to learn how to utilize tube sites, keep an eye out for my next article that will tell you how.