Surprising New Data from the World’s Most Popular Porn Site

Who views PornHub? When? What content? On which devices? For how long?

Posted Mar 15, 2018

Since 1997 when pornography began migrating to the Internet, it’s been difficult to get a clear picture of who’s viewing how much of what when. Journalists, academics, government agencies, anti-porn groups, and the porn industry have all released traffic estimates that often disagree.

So who should we we believe? Hard to say. All we can do is keep open minds and use our best judgment.

Recently, some intriguing new information came to light. The world’s most popular porn site, PornHub, published a trove of site statistics for 2017. This information can’t be independently fact-checked, so we shouldn’t take it as gospel. But to my knowledge, PornHub is the only major player in the online porn industry to release such data.

Of course, people who detest porn are certain to denounce everything having to do with PornHub as the work of the Devil. We’re all entitled to our opinions. In mine, the PornHub data are worth digesting—and discussing.

The World’s #36 Most Popular Site —or #4

PornHub was launched in 2007 in Montreal, Quebec. It publishes both professional and amateur explicit photography and video in dozens of categories including: Arab, Babysitter, Cartoon, Fisting, Gangbang, Public Sex, Vintage (prior to around 1980), and Popular with Women. But those categories merely scratch the surface. Using the site’s Search function, I entered “Mature,” women in their forties, and got oodles of subcategories, among them: Mature Mom, Mature Lesbian, Mature Swingers, and Mature women of every race from a dozen countries.

Alexa, the leading Web-traffic tracker, says that among the world’s tens of millions of sites, PornHub ranks number 36. But if we eliminate search engines (Google U.S. and its many country-specific affiliates), Web portals (Yahoo!), shopping sites (Amazon), and sites based on user-generated content (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit), if we focus only on sites that publish other content, then PornHub ranks number four behind only Wikipedia, Microsoft, and Netflix.

Meanwhile, among the planet’s top 100 sites, Alexa says that four others are also devoted to porn: XVideos (#39, based in France), BongaCams (#48, Russia), xHamster (#76, U.S.), and xnxx (#91, France).  Together PornHub and these four account for more than 6 billion visits per month, nearly one a month for every person on Earth. Clearly, pornography is one of the leading content categories on the Internet, and its audience is overwhelmingly male. Some pundits speculate that porn may be men’s #1 Internet destination. If it isn’t, it’s certain in the top few.

For 2017, PornHub claims 28.5 billion total visits. That’s 81 million a day, almost 4 million an hour, 56,000 a minute. In the time it takes to read this post, the site will have recorded more than 100,000 visits.

Many visitors use the Search function. PornHub tallied 25 billion searches last year. That’s 800 per second.

As for 2017 uploads to the site, PornHub estimates 7,000 gigabytes per minute, enough to fill the memories of every smart phone in the world.

Demographics

PornHub says its audience is 75 percent men and 25 percent women. This comes as a bit of a surprise. Most estimates of the Internet porn audience skew more toward men, on the order of 90 percent male, 10 percent female.

I emailed PorhnHub asking how they came up with their gender breakdown. A spokesperson replied that the site relies on GoogleAnalytics, a service of the giant search company that parses web traffic a zillion different ways. I use GoogleAnalytics myself for the site I publish, GreatSexGuidance. The depth and breadth of information is astonishing—and I use only the services available for free. Sites that pay major bucks get much, much more. So I’m (almost) ready to believe that women comprise around 25 percent of PornHub’s audience.

I’m guessing that a significant proportion of PornHub’s women audience is bisexual or lesbian. Among women, “lesbian” is the #1 search category (below).

The average age of PornHub viewers is 36. The site claims to discourage visits by minors, but many teens visit anyway, claiming to be 18 or older. Visitors by stated age:

         • 18-24: 30 percent

         • 25-34: 28 percent

         • 35-44: 18 percent

         • 45-54: 13 percent

         • 55-64: 7 percent

         • 65+: 4 percent

The Internet porn audience skews younger, but still, 24 percent are 45 or older.

Time Spent on PornHub

Therapists who deal with porn addiction paint a dark picture of hapless men stroking to porn for hours on end. That may be the case for a small minority of men, but according to PornHub, the average site visit lasts just 10 minutes (up 23 seconds from 2016). Of course, people can visit more than once a day, so heavy users can rack up hours.

Traffic spikes twice a day: 4-5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Visitors watch right after school or as the workday ends, and at night when the kids—and maybe the girlfriend or wife—are asleep.

Residents of different states average varying amounts of time on PornHub. All the states whose residents stay the longest—more than 11 minutes per visit—are located in the politically conservative deep South:       

         • Mississippi

         • Alabama

         • South Carolina

         • Louisiana

         • Arkansas

The states whose residents spend the least time per visit—nine to 10 minutes—are moderate to conservative and largely in the mountain West:

         • Kansas

         • Idaho

         • Oregon

         • Utah

         •  Colorado

However, there isn’t much difference between visits of 11 minutes and nine or 10. People, mostly men, in every state in the Union visit PornHub and stay for similar durations.

Categories viewed the longest in the U.S.—13 to 14 minutes:

         • Amateur (that is, not produced by commercial entities)

         • Japanese

         • Teen (age 18 to 20)

         • Old/young (partners of significantly different ages)

         • Mature (40-49)

Categories viewed most briefly—7 to 8 minutes:

         • Redhead

         • POV (from the videographer’s point of view)

         • Latina

         • Blonde

         • College

Categories that gained the most views from 2016 to 2017:      

         • Cuckold (men watching other men with their gals), up 72 percent

         • Japanese, up 66 percent

         • Indian (from India), up 57 percent

         • Cosplay (sex while dressed up as fictional characters), up 44 percent

         • Korean, up 39 percent

Gender Preferences

Men and women have different porn category preferences. Men’s favorites:

         • Japanese

         • Ebony (African and African-American)

         • MILF (Mother I’d Like to….)

         • Mature

         • Anal

Women’s favorites:

         • Lesbian

         • Threesome

         • Big dick

         • Ebony

         • Gangbang

Devices

For years, the Internet has been migrating away from desktop computers to smartphones. PornHub has also gone mobile:

         • Phones: 67 percent of views, up 5 percent from 2016

         • Desktop computers: 24 percent, down 4 percent

         • Tablets: 9 percent, down 1 percent

Declines in Traffic

Even devoted PornHub visitors take time off from the site. Days when visits show the greatest decreases:

         • New Year’s Eve: -27 percent

         • Super Bowl: -24 percent

         • Christmas Eve and Day: -21 percent

         • July 4: -14 percent

         • Thanksgiving: -13 percent

         • Easter: -8 percent

         • NBA Finals: -6 percent

         • Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day: -3 percent

         • World Series: -3 percent

         • NHL Finals: -3 percent

Of course, even on down days, site visits number in the tens of millions.

Many commentators who discuss porn treat it as monolithic, as though everyone is watching the same things. In fact, the world of porn is totally atomized with people of different genders, ages, and geography watching very different content.

Want to see my source for this post? PorhHub’s 2017 statistics.

Finally, I must admit I’m not sure what to make of all this. What do you think?

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