Social Media

Why Pornhub’s Bid For Vine Makes Sense

Six seconds is apparently "more than enough time" for most people to enjoy their porn these days

Social Media
Illustration: Tara Jacoby
Oct 28, 2016 at 5:19 PM ET

The world mourned the loss of Vine following Thursday’s announcement that the looping, six-second video platform will soon be discontinued, but Pornhub VP Corey Price immediately saw an opportunity.

Mere hours after news broke that the Twitter-owned platform would shutter, Price sent Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a letter, in which he noted the similarities between the two companies and expressed interest in purchasing Vine. Price appealed to the mogul’s financial stake in Twitter, and emphasized that Pornhub was interested in “saving Vine gems” like the famous “Damn, Daniel” video. The letter also made the company’s full intentions clear: “Upon purchasing Vine, we would restore it back to its NSFW glory.”

To note, Vine’s days of “NSFW glory” were a little less than glorious, with some underage Vine users creating illegal content. After initially blocking only porn-related hashtags, the platform went on to ban pornographic content completely in 2014. It was suggested at the time that the decision was related to a disturbing Vine that went particularly viral: a teenage boy using a Hot Pocket to masturbate. “We don’t have a problem with explicit sexual content on the internet — we’d just prefer not to be the source of it,” the company’s announcement at the time stated.

While Pornhub’s proposal might seem like another publicity stunt similar to those that many tube sites employ as they attempt to rebrand — some news sites brushed off the Vine purchase offer as a joke — there’s actually some pretty sound logic behind it. According to Pornhub, their mobile traffic has skyrocketed over 1,400 percent in recent years to comprise 75 percent of all U.S. traffic, a trend that’s reflective of a larger overall shift in the porn-consumption habits of Americans.

These days people seem to always be in need of a quick fix, as everyone is on the run and too busy to enjoy themselves,” Price told Vocativ in an email. It’s because of this on-the-go mentality that the long, plot-driven adult videos from days of yore have fallen out of favor; porn today is routinely packaged and viewed in bite-size formats, like compilations and GIFs.

And what is a Vine but a GIF with the added benefit of sound? As Price noted in his letter to Dorsey, “spurts of porn in six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves.” That’s something he’d know plenty about, given that Pornhub already features over 600,000 GIFs (with audio) on its site.

As sociologist Chauntelle Tibbals recently told The Debrief, the rise of the GIF format in porn was inevitable, given that “the consumption of erotic content has always paralleled existing or developing patterns of media consumption.” In the journal Porn Studies, media and communications lecturer Helen Hester terms this type of format “microporn.”

Price looks at Vine as an opportunity to distribute Pornhub’s existing library of microporn: “Vine was built for users to create and share short looping videos, so this platform could be a great place for users to view our more than 2 million GIFs,” he said. In terms of what Pornhub might be willing to spend on an acquisition, “No investment is too big when it comes to satisfying our customers.”

For their part, Pornhub claims to already have 60 million daily users, and they are eager to expand their reach. So even if Dorsey doesn’t entertain Pornhub’s bid, the porn giant could develop their own, similar technology. Though Price indicated the company is not working on anything “at the moment,” he says it’s a possibility. “We’re always open to trying new ways to service our customers,” he added.