Follow The Porn

Cable-Indecency: Hand holding tv remote control over a Porn Star on a TV screen AP / CBS

Like it or not, in the next few years, you're probably going to be following the lead of the porn industry. I'm not talking about wearing high heels to bed or making noises like a wounded rhino. I'm talking about video technology.

If you are into electronic home gadgets, you may already have a High Definition television in your home. Now you're probably trying to decide which of the two formats for recording and playing HD DVDs you should buy. Toshiba has the HD DVD format and Sony has the Blu-Ray format. In the spirit of corporate stupidity, the two formats are not compatible, and based on the history of the Betamax versus VHS war, only one format will survive. The porn industry recently made a commitment to Blu-Ray, so mainstream movie companies will probably be closely behind them, so to speak.

Hollywood knows now that it would be foolish to ignore technologies used by the porn industry. Pornography customers were among the first to buy home video players so they could watch their porn on their own TVs. This was a much more comfortable environment than some seedy movie theater. Hollywood studios didn't pick up on this right away. In fact, some studios fought home video all they way to the Supreme Court before making it one of the most profitable aspects of their business. Adult entertainment fans were among the first to buy DVD players so they could watch their porn on DVDs rather than videotape. And when the mainstream studios were saying that nobody would watch movies on the Internet, the porn industry blazed the trail there, too. It's no coincidence that porn's Adult Entertainment Expo runs at the same time and place as the largest U.S. technology fair, the Consumer Electronics Show. Surprise, surprise, they're both held in Las Vegas.

Why does the porn industry have such an influence on the rest of the movie and video business? They have a huge audience, and porn fans will buy the latest equipment. In 2005, the porn business had sales of approximately $12.6 billion. That means that not only is that creepy guy who lives down the block a fan of porn, but so is that nice couple who live next door. So, when all those new HD DVD (or Blu-Ray) players are in the porn enthusiasts' homes, regular movie companies don't want to get caught with their pants down. They'll want to use a format that the vast porn audience will already be using.

So, I guess the prudent thing for consumers to do is to wait. See if the porn industry really dictates the technology, and see which format survives before purchasing those expensive new machines that will be able to record and play HD DVDs on your TV.

But I'm not betting against the porn industry. It seems to get bigger and bigger each year, just like its stars. The industry releases about 11,000 videos on DVD each year. That's 11,000 different porn movies annually. Obviously, this far exceeds the number of "legitimate" movies that are released. Forgetting the commercial aspect for a moment and just thinking about the writing and producing of these movies, 11,000 is a staggering number. Are there really 11,000 different pornographic stories? Per year? How different can each of those 11,000 videos be? How many variations can those clever porn writers think of when it comes to, "Come on in. My husband's out of town?" Since stories are secondary in pornographic movies, could there possibly be 11,000 different positions? What are the other 10,977?

I don't have HD TV, but I've seen it in stores and at friends' houses. It's great, especially for sports and movies. But I'm not sure how it would enhance watching a porn video. Will it make the siliconed breasts look even more unreal? Is it going to make that motel wallpaper look any cheaper? Do you really need to see men with pale legs and black socks in High Definition?

Apparently so. Both the adult and the tech companies are banking on viewers grabbing this technology faster than a porn star can take off her nurse's uniform.



Lloyd Garver writes a weekly column for SportsLine.com. He has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver
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