Pornhub is not the savior of online video, and vimeo is not an alternative to YouTube

The discussion often goes as thus: YouTube sucks and is getting worse. Making a competitor is difficult, you need a big infrastructure for it, and Pornhub apparently has it and just would need to quickly make a copy of its website, rename it and open it for uploading of normal, SFW content.

But Pornhub neither has the right business model, nor the right infrastructure for this.

Pornhub’s parent company, Mindgeek, is not only a platform operator. It also owns lots of the studios that upload to Pornhub: Brazzers, RealityKings, DigitalPlayground, and others. Pornhub acts as a trailer site for these studios, with the “uncut” videos only being available via a 10 USD/month Pornhub Premium, or a 30 USD/month studio subscription. Further, the ads seen on Pornhub are served through the trafficjunky network – which is also owned by Mindgeek.

With this model, Mindgeek managed to put itself into a position where they are to porn what YouTube and Netflix combined would be for normal video. Competitors do exist, especially for their studio business, but the studios have to go through Pornhub if they want to get recognition by non-paying users, or money through Pornhub premium. For their platforms, a lot of what seems like competition actually isn’t: RedTube, YouPorn and others are owned by Mindgeek, too.

However: This model translates poorly to non-porn. The production cost of premium movies is astronomical compared to premium porn: Just think of the number of settings and actors typically involved. And the willingness of customers to pay 30 USD/month to access the works of a single studio is rather low.

On top of that, while Pornhub has lots of viewers, Pornhub only has 8 million videos uploaded. For comparison, people who

  • Were playing Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • On the PS3
  • Between 2010 and 2015 and
  • Wanted to share a funny clip with their friends
  • Without creating their own YouTube account

uploaded 1 067 410 videos to the default CODblackopsPS channel on YouTube. In other words: A decade ago, one game could get a video volume on YouTube in 5 years that’s in the same order of magnitude as all of Pornhub is over its life.

So, overall: Pornhub is nowhere near having an infrastructure that could compete with YouTube, and even if it had: Why would they? Free video hosting still is expensive. And it still comes with a huge portion of legal and moral issues attached: Copyright, now with Article 17. Spam. Terrorist propaganda. Hate. Gore. Livestreams of shootings. Pedophiles.

Who would risk a dominant position in an industry that probably won’t go away anytime soon to get into this space voluntarily?

Speaking of which:

vimeo is not a YouTube competitor.

YouTube is a free platform where you can upload videos in a decent quality, livestream and make money.

Vimeo is a platform where you need to pay to upload any meaningful amount of data, and 70 EUR/month if you want to livestream. The only way to make money on it is to sell access to your videos just like you’d sell DVDs.

Vimeo is not a YouTube competitor.

Their video quality is great though.