Pornography is booming during the covid-19 lockdowns

Pornography is having a good pandemic. As an industry, it is well adapted to a world in lockdown. It has already largely moved online; and its consumers often voluntarily self-isolate. Now, as Mike Stabile of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an industry group in Los Angeles, puts it, legions are “stuck at home and looking for an outlet”. Most online porn is free. Last month traffic on Pornhub, a giant website, for instance, was up by 22% compared with March. But this traffic drives revenue at smaller sites, which have to adapt their business models.

It is hard to know exactly how good business is. Gene Munster, a managing partner at Loup Ventures, an American investment firm, reckons that since the pandemic began, spending on porn worldwide has nearly doubled. That may be on the high side. But few porn outfits reveal revenues, both because many are privately held, and because no industry wants to be seen to be benefiting from loneliness and other ills. Andra Chirnogeanu of Studio 20, a firm based in Bucharest that streams clothed and nude models online, concedes that profits have risen along with the marital strife and breakups precipitated by lockdowns.

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