Summary:

Porn studios have long been on the forefront of technological development, adopting new media distribution models before mainstream content producers even take notice. So what does it mean that porn companies like Vivid and PinkVisual utilize HTML5, and not native apps, to get on Google TV?

vivid google tv

Updated. Google TV owners can now access XXX-rated content more easily, thanks to a new content channel from porn powerhouse Vivid (this link, as well as many others in this article, is not safe for work) launched earlier today. Hardcore porn for Google TV makes for a flashy headline, but there’s a more compelling tech story buried in this announcement: Vivid chose to utilize HTML5, not a native Android app, to bring its content onto Google’s living room platform. I was told by a company spokesperson that users simply have to navigate to the Vivid.com website with their Google TV device to be redirected to an optimized web app.

No market for porn apps

Vivid could have gone down a different route as well: Google’s Android Market doesn’t allow any X-rated apps, but Google TV owners are free to install non-market apps on their device, just like on any Android handset. And there are plenty of porn apps available for Android mobile phones and tablets. There’s even an XXX-rated alternative to Google’s own Android market called MiKandi (link NSFW) that helps consumers to get adult apps onto their phones.

However, I was told that we should’t expect a MiKandi version for Google TV devices any time soon. “We’re always looking for ways to expand our product to as many screens as we can,” a Mikandi spokesperson told me via email, adding: “At this time, we don’t have immediate plans to extend MiKandi to Google TV.”

HTML5 is more discreet than apps

Vivid isn’t alone with its HTML5 stance, either. PinkVisual (link NSFW) launched a Google TV web app when the platform was first released a year ago, which hasn’t seen much traffic since. “Like the Google TV itself, it hasn’t taken off very well,” I was told by PinkVisual President Allison Vivas.

The company has a few mobile apps available through MiKandi, but Vivas told me that for the time being, HTML5 seems to be the way to go, at least on the TV screen. “This may still be due to the automatic bookmarking that happens when you download an app versus a browsing history which could easily be deleted,” she explained.

Interoperability is key

The shame factor of a hardcore porn app on your living room TV may be one reason adult studios gravitate towards HTML5, but there’s also a bigger lesson to be learned from the way the porn industry approaches this new platform: Vivid co-founder Steven Hirsch made it clear that today’s launch isn’t just about Google TV:

We spent more than a year developing a code base for a robust, standalone Internet-TV channel with a friendly interface for the consumer that can be used with the current Google TV technology and other Internet protocol presentation methods now in development.

In other words: Vivid didn’t want to just bet on one platform, and instead created a web app that can also easily be used with other HTML5-compatible connected devices.

The porn industry has long been a kind of canary in the coal mine for the entertainment business. They were the first ones to embrace paid content online, and among the first ones to suffer huge losses from online piracy. That’s why both Google and mainstream media companies should take notice when adult studios are now taking a cautions approach towards Google TV, betting on HTML5 to be compatible with any future contenders.

And the success of porn on Google TV could also become a kind of indicator for the general success of the platform. Said Stephen Yagielowicz, senior technology editor for adult industry mag XBiz (link NSFW):

Anywhere there is a substantial audience of tech-savvy consumers with disposable income, you can be sure that adult entertainment will find a way in. Whether it finds a home and stays, is another matter.

Update: A Google spokesperson sent us the following statement with regards to adult content on Google TV:

“Anyone can put up a Website and optimize that Website for different devices, including TVs. Users can lock out access to the browser on Google TV through a 4-digit PIN code that can be quickly set up by accessing the “Application Lock” under “Privacy and Safety” in System Settings. Alternatively, users can implement Safe Search for Google TV’s Chrome browser under the same “Privacy and Safety” setting.”

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