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"BDSM on the Web: Where There’s Still Profit in Pain"

on Saturday, 24 May 2014. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

XBiz

By Bob Johnson

At face value the proliferation of BDSM and fetish-themed websites appears to be a boon for webmasters, but getting into the pain game requires a lot more than slapping down some rough content.

Webmasters looking to cash in on what seems to be an ever-increasing interest in BDSM sites may be in for a bit of a shock.

Although the market is humming with new sites, blogs and conferences popping up regularly – thanks to the ad nauseum popularity of the “Fifty Shades” phenom that shows no signs of ending anytime soon — it’s not enough to simply gather some bondage content and watch the fetish folks beat a path to the door.

The BDSM niche today requires some keen massaging. Sites like DDF Network’s HouseOfTaboo.com has added a glamour model angle, while Crygasm.com — that claims it approaches extreme topics in a safe way —  drills down into a micro niche that operator Stewart explains at first blush might seem to be very extreme pain based content, but in fact it is porn for women aimed at showing the sexual catharsis many women feel when using the power of an orgasm to overcome feelings of self-doubt, stress or other negativity. “The result is a site that appeals to both hardcore BDSM extremists and very casual softcore porn curiosity seekers as well,” he said.

This kind of laser focus is essential in the burgeoning yet restrictive market segment that’s being embraced more and more with fans worn out by over-saturated vanilla and free Internet porn.

Even the big guns need to dance to the tune of change. Kink.com founder Peter Acworth told XBIZ that revenue from BDSM recorded content on the Internet is slowly decreasing for the fetish giant, a trend that started a few years ago despite the company’s efforts to revive sales and reduce costs. “The profit margins are not what they used to be,” Acworth said.

But Kink has a plan that involves “re-platforming” Kink.com to reinvigorate sales by including the ability to bundle content arbitrarily (via performer, via tag, etc.) so it will be possible to subscribe or “follow” a performer and receive all of his/her content. Kink will also be tagging all of its content with BDSM toys used, and will be entering the novelty market in a more serious way (i.e. fans will be able to buy items used in shoots), according to Acworth.

And although the knee-jerk reaction by those new to the genre would be to push the limits of content to new extremes in order to titillate new paying customers, Acworth said in fact his company may be “retiring” some of its most extreme lines in favor of appealing to a more mainstream audience.

Kink’s also investing time and effort in KinkLive.com, which he said is growing nicely and is expected to continue over the next few years.

Another Internet giant and genre pioneer, Wastleland.com’s Colin Rowntree agrees that the current marketplace for BDSM continues to be strong, but it’s "different" than it was just a few years ago.

“Due to a lot of ever-evolving restrictions by the credit card associations on what can and cannot be shown in an S&M film, a lot of the ‘extreme’ content producers found it very difficult to create realistic and compelling BDSM content and moved over into simply "rough sex" genres,” Rowntree explained. The change in some ways has actually decreased competition and has, “thankfully” taken BDSM film making back towards its roots of "safe, sane and consensual,” according to Rowntree.

But some companies are still pushing the envelope — perhaps to get the edge others don’t want to touch. And terms like "slave,' tortured," "humilated," "brutal" and more are often bandied about on a site to lure in customers. ...

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