Pornography

The Real Mainstream Media

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Everyone knows that the Internet is for porn, but just how big is the online erotic empire? Sebastian Anthony answers:

The entrance to the Internet.

According to Google's DoubleClick Ad Planner, which tracks users across the web with a cookie, dozens of adult destinations populate the top 500 websites. Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn't much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub—they're all vast, vast sites that dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet.

While page views are a fine starting point, they only tell you that X porn site is more popular than Y non-porn site. Four billion page views sure sounds like a lot, but it's only when you factor in what those porn surfers are actually doing that the size and scale of adult websites truly comes into focus….

The main difference between porn and non-porn sites is the average duration of a visit: For a news site like Engadget or ExtremeTech, an average visit is usually between three and six minutes; enough time to read one or two stories. The average time spent on a porn site, however, is between 15 and 20 minutes.

Furthermore, "porn sites cope with astronomical amounts of data. The only sites that really come close in term of raw bandwidth are YouTube or Hulu, but even then YouPorn is something like six times larger than Hulu." YouPorn also "serves 4000 pages per second, equating to burst traffic in the region of 100 gigabytes per second, or 800Gbps. This is equivalent to transferring more than 10 dual-layer DVDs every second."

To put that 800Gbps figure into perspective, the internet only handles around half an exabyte of traffic every day, which equates to around 50Tbps—in other words, a single porn site accounts for almost 2% of the internet's total traffic. There are dozens of porn sites on the scale of YouPorn….It's probably not unrealistic to say that porn makes up 30% of the total data transferred across the internet.

The next time you hear someone use a phrase like "the mainstream media," think back to those numbers and remind yourself what comprises the real Big Media. And if you're a porn user yourself, be thankful that no presidential campaign has decided to advertise there. Yet.