Pornhub Aims For YouTube’s Crown with SFW Videos and Focus on Creators

DISCLAIMER: This story has links to adult content, and has screenshots with profanity. 

With more than a billion hours of watch time every day, it is safe to say that YouTube is the biggest online videos platform by a long way. And while the company is focusing on building itself as a competitor for Netflix and Amazon Prime to grab the TV audience, YouTube’s stronghold on online video and creators is loosening at the hands of another Amazon company Twitch.

The Wall Street Journal reports that YouTube has seen a ten-fold increase in viewership over the past five years, and in that time YouTube has seen plenty of competition for that massive pie. While Twitch is probably the most mainstream example, one rival that’s taken everyone by surprise is Pornhub.

Durgesh Kukreti | Beebom

Pornhub has a highly-engaging subscriber base and a strong network, just like YouTube.

It’s not just a bold opinion; it’s a well-known fact that adult entertainment has driven technology as pointed out in this WIRED article which references TV show Silicon Valley’s plot that deals with a fictitious porn website.

There are some real strong opinions on pornography, but there’s no denying that Pornhub gets more visitors than many ‘legit’ video streaming behemoths such as Netflix, Amazon, etc. It would be hard to find a person online who has not heard of Pornhub.

Pornhub Aims For YouTube’s Crown with SFW Videos and Focus on Creators

PornHub Goes Safe For Work

And that’s just with porn. But now Pornhub has started taking first steps to breaking through as an online video threat to YouTube. It’s not surprising, though. We live in a world where Playboy has gone PG-13. It’s no secret that the adult entertainment industry wants to step out of the walled compounds to garner mainstream appeal.

Pornhub has been taking cues from YouTube to run its online community, especially in terms of interacting with creators. It also shares a lot of similarities with YouTube and Twitch in terms of the kind of content it wants creators to produce.

Pornhub Is not just about Porn Anymore

Like Twitch did with gamers, Pornhub leveraged the fact that people want to know porn artists beyond their primary work. A growing number of porn creators on Pornhub have started uploading “safe-for-work” or SFW content or videos that are not porn. Yes, that’s a thing on Pornhub; here’s one of them:

Pornhub SFW Video example

Well, watching SFW videos on Pornhub is the digital equivalent of buying Playboy for its articles (they were really good). But it is not a good idea to actually watch them at work, and that’s also problematic for Pornhub. We’ll dig a little deep into it a bit later.

Bigger Payouts

Right now, Pornhub’s SFW category is mostly populated with videos by famous porn artists with videos that are not pornographic. But I am sure this space will see some good content in the long run as Pornhub is way more generous when it comes to ad-revenue payouts.

Pornhub’s Ad-revenue Payouts are significantly higher than YouTube

YouTube pays out 55 percent of ad-revenue to members of its partner program. That’s right, once you reach 4,000 watch hours and get 1,000 subscribers on your channel, you’ll be eligible to get up to 55 percent of the ad revenue you generate through your channel. Pornhub’s revenue sharing deal blows YouTube out of the water.

According to this TheNextWeb report, Pornhub paid out “approximately” 90 percent of the ad revenue to creators till last year. And that’s coming from Corey Price, the VP of Pornhub. The FAQ page on the site says creators can now earn up to 80 percent of revenue from ads. If I were an indie creator, I’d certainly choose the platform that’s offering me better payouts, especially as YouTube has had to change its monetization policy so often. Also like YouTube, revenue is shared directly with the particular model or creator and you can track all this through a dashboard.

Pornhub also has an active partner program like Twitch and YouTube that reaches out to millions of visitors every month. Yes, most Pornhub visitors are there for the porn, but the advertising program has proven to be fruitful to hundreds of models and content producers on the platform, who are making non-pornographic videos.

Pornhub's Safe for Work Category
Pornhub’s SFW category being populated by funny videos.

Building Audience

Porn star Lindsey Love uploads tons of videos on Pornhub, and has over 280,000 subscribers (at the time of writing). It’s either on par or higher than millions of YouTube creators out there. That’s not saying she generates more revenue, but it is noteworthy to say the least, especially given the niche Pornhub occupies.

Love regularly hosts conversations with her followers through the comments or by engaging with them on other social media platforms. It is not unlike what thousands of other creators do on YouTube.

Ever heard of Pornhub Original Content?

Since we’ve already established a pattern here, let’s also talk about Pornhub’s content strategy.


Pornhub Original Content

Pornhub has followed Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube in producing its own Pornhub original content. Of course, the material here is not all safe for work. After all, Pornhub is a porn site and naturally wanted to experiment with explicit videos to kickstart original content. But we can assure you it won’t be all porn in a few months.

Pornhub has shown it wants to do things that are beyond their audience’s expectations. It has even started producing compilation videos to share some of the top videos of the year. It is, again, similar to YouTube’s Rewind videos, except Pornhub’s video is full of sex scenes.

Perhaps you are convinced by now that Pornhub is trying to do more than porn and it’s also building a platform for creators. But, is it working?

Cashing in on Fortnite

Yes! Pornhub is doing an excellent job with traffic numbers. Consider Pornhub’s 2017 stats; over 28 billion people stopped by the website at least once. A huge chunk of that traffic even performed a search, and it’s not just porn. More curious visitors looked for videos related to Fortnite Battle Royale. Parody videos of Alex Jones are also often found on Pornhub, along with illegal streams of movies and more.

Fortnite Search Trends
More People Started Searching for Fortnite Porn in 2018

Pornhub has some pretty numbers to boast. It is nowhere close to Google’s YouTube, but, I’d say Pornhub has done a great job of staying on top of the adult industry. Just take a look at these numbers –

Pornhub Annual Traffic
Pornhub’s Annual Traffic Stats

Looking at those numbers, any creator in their right mind would hop on to the platform. But here’s why I think Pornhub isn’t yet ready for most creators.

You’ll still see ads for porn content.

Shedding The Porn Image

The first, and probably the most pressing issue is that it is still a porn site. Hence, even if you are trying to watch a non-porn video on the platform, you are going to see some sort of adult content. If you’ve clicked on the Pornhub links in this particular article, you must have landed on a page with some content that you’d rather be watching alone, if at all. Seriously, even if you are just trying to browse the so-called SFW category, you’ll still see ads for porn content.

Unlike Pornhub, YouTube Creators Have a cult following

The next thing is the current state of the community. Building a community is hard. We’ve spent a lot of time talking good things about the Pornhub’s growing SFW videos, but it doesn’t have meaningful content to reasonably set it apart.

YouTube has had dedicated creators for more than a decade. One of my favorite creators, Casey Neistat, has been making videos and pressing the upload button on YouTube for over a decade now. It goes to show just how strong the community is and how creators have managed to build a cult following. It would be hard to pry them off YouTube and bring them to Pornhub.

Pornhub's Annual Traffic
Pornhub’s Annual Traffic Stats

Limited Range of Content

Pornhub’s SFW content, on the other hand, is very limited. It mostly comprises of funny and clickbait videos. Browsing through Pornhub’s SFW content is like going through 9gag. For instance, the Donald Trump inauguration video on Pornhub is titled, “Rich white man fucks entire country at once.” 

I don’t blame the creators, though. People are free to upload anything on Pornhub, as long as they abide by the guidelines. You don’t have to worry about your videos getting demonetized for being explicit. Of course, you’ll never have to worry about the so-called YouTube Adpocalypse, since the advertisers themselves are showing off sexually-explicit content. However, that results in debasing and exploitative content, which is typically not good for gathering an enormous audience. It’s ridiculously lucrative in the short-term, but I don’t think it’ll help bring in the eyeballs like YouTube has.

It may not surprise you to learn that Pornhub isn’t an ideal platform for creators yet. However, Pornhub is one of those names which has a lot of potential thanks to its huge popularity.

People have suggested that PornHub should start a ‘Hub’ where it only posts SFW content. This Reddit thread did that and Pornhub’s community manager said that company has joked about this internally.

Pornhub's Response
Pornhub Community Manager’s Response

It’s safe to say that Pornhub is definitely on to something with its steps into SFW territory. With an appealing monetization plan and a sizable audience, it could have a winner and with YouTube being criticized by users, creators, opinion leaders and more, it also has a big opportunity which is already being used by Twitch. It’s weird to think that Pornhub could turn itself around from being a porn videos site, but we hope it manages to find a place for itself as it could be a vibrant addition to a space dominated by YouTube. 

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