Fast Company

Streaming Porn, Roku-Style: Can Sex Sell the Set Top Box?

scrambled roku

Remember what cable TV was like in the early '80s? Sure, now we have shows like the Sopranos, the Daily Show, and Mad Men, but back then it was mostly Emmanuelle 8 on "Skinemax" and HBO's Real Sex. Now it seems a similar evolutionary tale is playing out in the world of web-to-TV streaming devices. First came the news that Boxee would feature an adult content app, cleverly named BoXXXee. Then, last week, adult entertainment company EroticVision.TV announced they would be streaming videos to users' TVs via the Roku digital video player.

Like cable, video streaming has to start somewhere, and right now the available content is somewhat limited. Roku has a relationship with Netflix, but TV networks have yet to come on board. Meanwhile, Boxee encountered a series of hurdles when they tried to stream content from Hulu last spring. The porn industry appears to be one of the few content providers willing to play, um, ball. After cable evolved past its early porn days, adult content was largely relegated to the Internet. Companies like EroticVision see Roku and similar devices as their chance to get back on viewers' big-screen TVs.

It's unclear how large a role porn will play in Roku and Boxee's success, though. Back in 2008, industry insiders predicted that the Vudu streamer might beat out the competition by providing porn, but that was assuming the other devices wouldn't be offering adult content. Now, it's clear that all the major players are getting into the porn game. Will all this tawdry nudie-action eventually lead to new outlets for premium content, a la HBO? One can only hope.

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