Porn Companies: The Titans of Sin-dustry That Redefined Pleasure [2022 Data]

Let’s take a look at what’s behind the biggest porn companies: how much money’s in it, how really big the industry is, how much porn is there, and more.

porn companies

We’ve all seen porn, but we rarely think about where it comes from or how it turned into the gargantuan industry that it is today.

It’s sort of like hot dogs. We like it, but do we really want to know how it’s made? 

Of course, we do. Porn is everywhere, and our research gets into the best and worst details behind the world’s top companies, how they started, how much porn they make, and how it’s affecting society – for better or for worse. 

You won’t last 10 seconds looking at these data points!

  • Porn makes up 4% of all websites but over 30% of all internet traffic. 
  • PornHub stream 65,068 years of video each month. 
  • XVideos and XNXX are the two largest adult sites in the world, with a combined total of over 8 billion views per month. 
  • Roughly one-third of porn viewers are women. 
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of porn sites show adult content on their homepages without asking if the viewers are of legal age.
  • 3-6% of the adult population suffers from either porn addiction or problematic porn use. 
  • In 2005, the porn industry in the U.S. generated $12.62 billion in revenue. In 2006, this number increased to $13.33 billion.

How Big Is the Porn Industry?

It’s impossible to tell exactly how much money porn makes – the greasy guys behind the cameras keep their secrets close to their hairy chests. That being said, there are some pretty good estimates. 

Take a look at these data points:

  • Porn is a $97 billion industry worldwide and a $12 billion industry in the U.S. alone. (NBC, 2015)1
  • Other estimates speculate the industry’s worth to be between $6 billion and $97 billion, with more conservative estimates saying $6-15 billion. (Fight the New Drug, 2019)2
  • Most porn firms are privately held, so accurate estimates of the industry’s value are difficult or impossible. (Yahoo Finance, 2018)3

How Does Porn Make Money?

It’s all free, right? I mean, sure, we’ve all got to spend 10 to 15 seconds watching an ad about horny MILFs in our area – but is that the only way that porn makes money?

More people pay for those subscriptions than you might think. Here’s a look at the data:

  • There are two ways that porn companies typically make money, and many sites use a combination of both methods: (Fight the New Drug, 2019)2
    • Subscription-based Porn is when a user pays a specific amount of money each month to access porn, similar to a streaming service. 
    • Ad-based Porn is when the content offered on porn sites is technically free, but the owners sell advertisement space on their sites in the form of banner ads or video ads. 
  • Piracy and free porn dig into porn company profits. (Business Insider, 2019)4
    • In 2009, piracy and the Great Recession caused adult movie producers’ profits to drop 30-50%. 
    • Before the Great Recession, mid-sized adult entertainment companies were making about $350,000 per month in DVD sales. Piracy and new technology caused those profits to tank.  
  • Porn may seem to be mostly free, but that isn’t always the case: (Business Insider, 2019)4
    • While the majority of porn appears free, “free porn” is just a small portion of the industry. 
    • Premium content such as ad-free streaming, HD videos, downloads, Live Cam streaming, and more are typically paid content. 
    • Users who pay can receive content to their email or even their physical addresses.
  • Porn companies convince users to pay for their products in a few different ways: (Business Insider, 2019)4
    • Subscriptions can give priority access to specific pornstars whose content may be unavailable elsewhere or take months to become free porn.
    • Personalized sex toys, adult chat rooms, or adult dating sites are other ways that porn companies get subscriptions. 
    • Redirecting traffic to advertised sites earns money for porn companies. 
    • Porn sites only show porn-related ads such as adult dating, adult stores, sexual enhancement drugs, adult game sites, etc.
    • Each of these interconnected websites forms a network of traffic redirection that takes advantage of lust and impulsiveness to get clicks and purchases. All of these sites make money off of each other. 
  • An estimated 200 porn production companies employ 1200 to 1500 performers each, who earn $400 to $1000 per standard shoot – though top-tier performers often earn more. (Covenant Eyes, 2021)5

The Rise of the US Porn Industry

It started with sticky magazines and VHS tapes from a shady store with barred windows, but the internet helped porn skyrocket to a collective of media empires. 

Here’s a look at how porn grew with the internet:

  • In the late 1990s, the porn industry (including adult video rentals, online sites, magazines, and pay-per-view) was worth between $2.6 and $3.9 billion. (Forbes, 2001)6
    • Adult video sales/rentals – no more than $1.8 billion
    • Internet porn revenue – $1 billion
    • Pay-per-view porn – $128 million
    • Magazines – $1 billion
  • In 2005, the porn industry in the U.S. generated $12.62 billion in revenue. In 2006, this number increased to $13.33 billion. (Covenant Eyes, 2014)7
  • In the early 2000s, Adult Video Network estimated the online adult entertainment industry was worth $2.8 billion. (Time, 2012)8

How Much Porn Is There?

If you watched porn every second of every day for your entire life, you still wouldn’t get through all the porn on just one major site. 

People are watching it, sending it, buying it, making it, and innovating new ways to experience it every single day. 

Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • There are about 25 million porn sites in the world, which make up 4% of all websites and over 30% of all internet traffic. (Statista, 2019)9
  • These data points on porn were pulled from a variety of studies and reports from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s: (Webroot, n.d.)10
    • Every second:
      • 28,258 users are watching porn online. 
      • $3,075.64 is being spent on internet porn.
      • 372 people are typing the word “adult” into a search engine. 
    • Every day:
      • 37 porn videos are created in the U.S.
      • 2.5 billion emails containing porn are sent or received. 
      • 68 million search queries related to porn (25% of all searches) are generated.
    • Porn by the Numbers:
      • 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites.
      • 35% of all internet downloads are porn-related.
      • About one-third of porn viewers are women. 
  • In 2005, monthly porn traffic was 71.9 million people visiting adult sites – 42.7% of the internet audience at the time. (Covenant Eyes, 2021)5
  • Virtually Reality (VR) porn is expected to be a $1 billion industry by 2025, trailing just behind VR video games ($1.4 billion) and VR NFL content ($1.23 billion). (Covenant Eyes, n.d.)11
  • About a quarter of all daily search engine requests (68 million) are for pornographic material (Covenant Eyes, 2021)5
  • 1 in 5 mobile phone searches is for pornography. (Covenant Eyes, n.d.)11

How America Views and Interacts With Pornography

Socially, the U.S. has come a long way from burning witches and outlawing alcohol. Still, nearly half of families believe that porn is a problem in their homes. Children are exposed to porn at young ages, and it’s virtually impossible to prevent. 

Hell, even 20% of America’s youth pastors are watching porn on the regular. Here’s a look at porn in the U.S.:

  • One Christian organization found the following data that highlights Americans’ perspective on porn: (Covenant Eyes, n.d.)11
    • 90% of teens and 96% of young adults are encouraging, accepting, or neutral when discussing porn with friends. 
    • Only 55% of adults over 25 believe that porn is wrong. 
    • Americans ages 13 to 24 generally believe that not recycling is worse than viewing pornography.
    • These percentages of each generation believe porn is bad for society:
      • Teens – 43%
      • Young adults ages 18 to 24 – 31%
      • Millennials – 51%
      • Gen-Xers – 44%
      • Baby Boomers – 59%
    • In 2018, nearly 27% of teens were receiving sexts, and about 15% were sending them.
    • 51% of male students and 32% of female students first saw porn before age 13. 
    • The average first exposure to pornography for men is 12 years old.
    • 1 in 5 Christian youth pastors and 1 in 7 senior pastors regularly watch porn – that’s over 50,000 church leaders in the U.S. 
  • 47% of American families say pornography is a problem in their homes. (Webroot, n.d.)10
  • The prevalence of porn can cause harm to those who aren’t ready to see it or who have addictive personalities: (The Recovery Village, 2022)12
    • 3-6% of the adult population suffers from either porn addiction or problematic porn use. 
    • As many as 65% of young adult men and 18% of young adult women say they watch porn at least once a week. 
    • The median age for initial exposure to pornography is 14 years old. 
    • Most boys (93.2%) and girls (62.1%) see porn before turning 18. 

Best Porn Companies: Titans of the Porn Industry

As with any industry, a few go-getters are bound to make it to the top. But, whether you consider them the killers of small-business porn, or admirable titans of sin-dustry, these companies are behind most – if not all – of the porn you’ve ever seen. 

Here’s some info on the top dogs of the porn world:

MindGeek

MindGeek is the world’s largest porn company; it was founded in 2004 and now employs over 1,000 people and is worth over $740 million. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • MindGeek owns and operates many of the world’s top adult sites, including:
    • PornHub
    • RedTube
    • YouPorn
    • Tube8
    • Brazzers Network
    • Porn MD
    • XTube
  • With 3.42 billion monthly hits, PornHub gets more traffic than Amazon, Instagram, and eBay. Each visit to the site lasts 10 minutes and 25 seconds on average, meaning they stream 65,068 years of content each month.  
  • MindGeek also owns MyDirtyHobby, RealityKings, DigitalPlayground, and Men.com. 

Larry Flynt Publications (LFP, Inc.)

Larry Flynt Publications (LFP, Inc.) started when Larry Flynt launched Hustler Magazine in 1974. His media empire now includes sex shops, strip clubs, and porn films. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • LFP Inc. still creates print titles, including:
    • Barely Legal
    • Asian Fever
    • Hustler XXX
    • Hustler’s Chic Magazine
    • Hustler’s Leg World
    • LFP Inc. now employs over 300 people and is worth an estimated $500 million. 

Playboy Enterprises

Playboy Enterprises rebooted its brand with a strong online presence and had total revenue of $215 million in 2010. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • Annual sales of the Playboy brand exceed $1 billion; the profit from these sales is 50% of Playboy Enterprise’s revenue. 

Private Media Group

Private Media Group is known for its mega-budget porn movies, such as the two-part series “Millionaire.” (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • “Millionaire” supposedly cost $1.6 million to make and earned 16 nominations at the 2004 Venus awards. In addition, the company has earned over 130 adult industry awards. 

Hammy Media Limited

Hammy Media Limited is responsible for xHamster.com – the world’s 34th most-trafficked website with over 1.4 billion monthly hits. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • It’s unclear how much the company is worth, but conservative estimates have it at around $62.2 million. 

WGCZ Holdings

WGCZ Holdings is a network of associate companies, listed registrars, and individuals that together own XVideos and XNXX – two of the world’s largest porn sites. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • XVideos and XNXX are ranked the first and second biggest adult content sites worldwide and receive over 8 billion monthly views. 

Core Magazine

Core Magazine is a Japanese-owned company worth an estimated $52 million. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • Since 1995 Core Magazine has been producing Hentai Manga, adult magazines, and yaoi. It also runs a successful chain of specialist book shops. 

AVN Media Network

AVN Media Network is one of the most influential adult entertainment companies and one of the industry’s leading trade organizations. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • Founded in California in 1982, the company hosts the annual AVN Awards.
  • AVN focuses mostly on online publishing, industry news, and events management. 
  • They organize several prominent adult events such as:
    • Internext Las Vegas
    • Erotica LA
    • AVN Novelty Expo
    • AVN Adult Entertainment Expo
    • Webmaster Access Amsterdam

Paul Raymond Publishing

Paul Raymond Publishing started with Paul Raymond selling black market goods in Britain during World War II (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • He entered adult entertainment by opening a strip club in Soho, London, in 1958.
  • In 1974, he purchased a men’s magazine called Men’s Only, which eventually became the UK’s largest adult magazine empire. 
  • The company earns over $26 million in annual revenue and has a strong online presence with hardcore content for members. 

Vivid Entertainment

Vivid Entertainment is one of just a few studios that dominate U.S. porn production and has more AVN Awards than any other production company. (Red Light Network, 2021)13

  • Founded in 1984 and often cited as one of the world’s top adult entertainment businesses, its performers are known as “Vivid Girls” and have included:
    • Asia Carrera
    • Nina Mercedez
    • Nikki Jayne
    • Chasey Lain
    • Brian Banks
    • Tera Patrick
    • Savanna Samson
    • Hanna Hilton

The Problems With Porn

Believe it or not, porn isn’t always healthy or legal. Modern-day slavers, also called human traffickers, have forced some of their victims to participate in pornographic films and tried – sometimes successfully – to upload them to popular sites. 

While adult sites have improved their filtering of illegal content, porn can still cause harm to individuals and relationships. Porn addiction is relatively common, and many couples find their relationships strained by their partner’s porn use. 

Here are some data points on the harmful effects of porn:

  • A 2011 study of 153 underage sex trafficking victims found that 17.6% had been used to make pornography. (Journal of Applied Research on Children, 2011)14
  • 116,000 queries related to child pornography are generated each day. (Webroot, n.d.)10
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of porn sites show adult content on their homepages without asking if the viewers are of legal age. (Enough, n.d.)15
  • Roughly 200,000 Americans are considered porn addicts. (Webroot, n.d.)10
  • The marital infidelity rate is increased by 300% when pornography is used. (Webroot, n.d.)10
  • 40% of those who identify as sex addicts lose their spouses, 58% suffer financial losses, and about 33% lose their jobs. (Webroot, n.d.)10
  • One study in the early 2000s found that 56% of divorces involved one spouse having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites. (Covenant Eyes, n.d.)11
  • Porn creates issues that can harm or strain relationships, such as: (Utah State University, n.d.)16
    • Difficulty becoming aroused without porn.
    • Losing interest and having less sex with a partner.
    • Some partners see pornography as infidelity.
    • Pornography can make some partners feel threatened or sexually inadequate.
    • A partner may feel like some sexual activities desired by their porn-watching partner are objectionable.
    • Sexual satisfaction and emotional closeness can decrease. 
    • Trust can decrease when porn is used deceptively, or the user is dishonest about it. 
    • One or both partners may feel concerned about children’s exposure to pornographic materials. 
  • 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content through ads, pop-ups, emails, or misdirected links. (Webroot, n.d.)10

Porn Industry Awards

Great work deserves credit, and the porn industry is no exception. From the most groundbreaking BBW scenes to the raunchiest directors, no exceptional act goes without credit in the adult film industry. 

Here are some of the most popular adult awards:

  • Heterosexual pornographic film awards in the U.S. are as follows: (Wikipedia, n.d.)17
    • X-Caliber Awards – Sponsored by Adam Film World and decided by the votes of adult theater audiences. 
    • AVN Awards – Awarded by AVN for excellence in various categories of making and marketing porn films. 
    • CAFA Awards – These ancient awards were given to those working on porn flicks in the 1980s. 
    • Erotic Film Awards – An adult film awards ceremony hosted by the Adult Film Association of America. 
    • Erotic Movie Awards – Hosted by Hustler, these awards recognize excellence in erotic films. 
    • The Fannys – These awards are fan-selected through voting and hosted by Exxxotica Expo.
    • Fans of Adult Media and Entertainment Award – Sponsored by Genesis, these awards recognize their favorite porn stars, directors, films, and companies. 
    • Fans of X-Rated Entertainment – This porn fan organization recognizes male fan favorites, female fan favorites, and the coveted Video Vixen award for new female performers. 
    • FSC Lifetime Achievement Awards – These awards recognize those who have gone above and beyond to contribute something extraordinary to porn businesses and professionals. 
    • NightMoves Award – The NightMoves magazine gives awards in several categories, including “Best Butt,” “Best BBW Release,” “Best All-Girl Release,” and more!
    • SHINE Awards – Sponsored by The Media Project, these awards recognize the most accurate and honest portrayals of sexuality. 
    • Transgender Erotica Awards – These awards recognize the best and brightest pioneers in transgender adult film. 
    • Urban X Award – These prestigious awards celebrate excellence in ethnic pornography. 
    • XBIZ Award – This award honors people, companies, performers, and products that help adult films succeed and grow. 
    • XRCO Award – From the X-Rated Critics Organization, these awards are exclusive to industry professionals and recognize fantastic performance or innovation in a variety of categories. 

  • Homosexual pornographic film awards in the U.S. are as follows: (Wikipedia, n.d.)17
    • 10th Annual Cybersocket Web Awards – These awards celebrate gay adult content from cam sites to content providers to processors. 
    • Blatino Erotica Awards – These awards recognize the gay men of color who go above and beyond in adult entertainment. 
    • GayVN Awards – Hosted by Adult Video Network, these prestigious annual awards honor work done for the gay porn industry. 
    • Grabby Awards – Given annually in Chicago, Grab Magazine awards the best of the best in gay porn. 

Conclusion

From the most vanilla missionary scenes to the raunchiest anal-obliteration flicks, we’ve all experienced porn to the extent of our own curiosity and satisfaction. From humble beginnings, adult entertainment has grown to enormous – and somewhat questionable – heights. 

While it’s still possible to pay for videos like in the old days, most people enjoy the wealth of variety that comes with advertisement and subscription-based revenue models. Of course, numbers fluctuate, but on average, roughly half of Americans think porn is bad, and half don’t. 

Like any good thing, porn requires moderation. As beautiful as it may be, it isn’t real, and it shouldn’t come between you and your relationships or responsibilities. If you feel that porn controls your life, seek counseling and help. 

Many relationships suffer from one partner’s porn use. However, the divorce rate didn’t change drastically with the rise of internet porn – it’s a symptom, not necessarily a cause. Whether it’s jealousy, sexual dissatisfaction, or anything else, communicating with your partner is the best way to resolve issues. 

Lastly, and most importantly, people are being exploited and victimized in some pornographic films. If you see anything nonconsensual, or anything involving a minor, report it. You’re not at fault for seeing it, but being a bystander is inexcusable. 

Porn takes the most beautiful, unique, and astounding aspects of our sexuality and displays them for our pleasure. It’s meant to be enjoyed, so enjoy it. 

Footnotes

  1. NBC, 2015. An article on the state of the global porn industry and its chief conflicts, including piracy and condom use.
  2. Fight the New Drug, 2019. An article on the worth of the global porn industry as well as how it makes money and affects consumers.
  3. Yahoo Finance, 2018. An article on the potential scope of the porn industry and how it’s difficult or impossible to measure accurately.
  4. Business Insider, 2019. A business article on the means and methods that porn companies use to make money, despite their product often being free.
  5. Covenant Eyes, 2021. A breakdown of the porn industry and how it operates, as well as how it affects those involved, using testimony from a prior pornstar.
  6. Forbes, 2001. An article on the size and scope of the porn industry in America that cites data from a 1998 Forrester Research report and other sources.
  7. Covenant Eyes, 2014. An article by anti-porn organization Covenant Eyes that uses a variety of sources to estimate the size and scope of the porn industry.
  8. Time, 2012. An investigative piece on the growth of the online porn industry and the estimates on revenue generated by different aspects of it.
  9. Statista, 2019. A summary of research on the volume of porn sites present on the internet utilizing the most recent data found from 2005 to 2014.
  10. Webroot, n.d. A statistical report on the various effects that pornography has on society in the U.S.
  11. Covenant Eyes, n.d. A report on the general statistics and trends in the porn industry compiled by anti-porn organization Covenant Eyes.
  12. The Recovery Village, 2022. A medically-reviewed article on the prevalence of pornography and how it affects people, relationships, and society.
  13. Red Light Network, 2021. A comprehensive report on the 10 biggest porn companies in the world today.
  14. Journal of Applied Research on Children, 2011. A study on the characteristics and trends in the sex trafficking of minors using data from 115 cases involving 153 victims in the U.S.
  15. Enough, n.d. A comprehensive report on porn industry statistics compiled by the non-profit organization Enough, citing data from a variety of sources.
  16. Utah State University, n.d. An article authored by Naomi Brower, M.S., that details the ways pornography can harm relationships and how to mitigate that harm.
  17. Wikipedia, n.d. An online encyclopedia entry on adult film awards in the United States.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More

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