Over the past two decades, the adult industry has often been credited globally with the mainstreaming of innovations in consumer technology, such as video formats, Web searches, and discreet chat rooms.
The latest in that swelling list appears to be mobile data: Porn-viewing on the hand-phone seems to have surged as data costs plunged in India’s telecom industry.
The viewing of adult content soared 75% since data rates came crashing down in the second half of last fiscal year under severe competitive pressure, according to video viewership tracker Vidooly’s findings, available exclusively with ET.
New entrant Reliance Jio’s aggressive pricing forced incumbents Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular to sharply cut data rates, even as porn viewing surged – primarily in the tier 2 and tier 3 towns.
Streaming of adult content appears to have been more popular than downloads, Vidooly data showed. This is a period that saw data consumption jump to about 1300 million GB a month at March end, up more than nine times from June last year, according to the Internet Trends Report 2017 by Kleiner Perkins.
“There is an increase of 75% online video viewership and 60% spike in watch time from India within the adult content category,” Subrat Kar, co-founder and CEO of Vidooly told ET. His firm tracks video viewership across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
He added that video streaming was more popular as most of this traffic comes from low-storage mobile devices from tier 2 and tier 3 towns. What’s more interesting is that about 80% of content is in short form, and tier II-III towns contribute 60% of viewership. Besides adult content, music, entertainment, news (regional), and comedy shows are consumed more in 18-34 age groups.
“There is an overall 30-40% increase of viewership and watch time in these 4 categories,” said Kar. The surge in video consumption coincides with the falling price of smartphones that support 3G and 4G, combined with the sharply lower data prices. Average cost of a GB of data per month by March end has slumped to $0.33, taking into account Jio’s cost of $0.17.
While telcos declined to comment on surge in porn viewing, there is unanimity that video contributes about 80% to the data play. An official at one of the top telecom firms said that there definitely has been a rise in adult viewership since one does not need 8-10 GB of data for it.
What is also clear is that most content – regardless of its genre – is being viewed on mobiles. Kantar IMRB reveals people are spending 28 hours per week on smartphones – 7 times more than the time spent on television – of which 45% of the time is dedicated toward entertainment.
With India’s mobile Internet user-base estimated to increase further to reach 410-420 million users by June 2017, with rural consumption fast outpacing urban demand and data rates far from firming, the trend is only likely to continue, say experts.