web technology

State of the Resolution: HD or not HD

Video Streaming Resolution

High Definition is on the rise for free porn websites – restrictions apply.

For this online porn industry insider we take a close look on how the top 50 free porn video sites adapt to state of the art video technology. Our focus will be on resolution, specifically the availability of HD content (720p/1080p).

HD standards have been there for some years, dating back to somewhere around the millennium. Since then it took some time until a comprehensive coverage in terms of technology and content was achieved.

A bit of technical background: A 720p video is 1280 (wide) x 720 pixels (tall), which is more than twice the detail of standard definition (480p). 1080p is racking up the pixel dimensions to 1920 x 1080 – that’s five times more detailed than SD.

HD formats have a 16:9 aspect ratio, while older formats have a 4:3 ratio that was also common in the age of tube television.

 

Comparison Video Resolutions

When it comes to big video-sharing websites the adoption was led by Vimeo who introduced 720p by October 2007, YouTube followed with 720p by November 2008.

For Full HD it was the other way around i.e. YouTube introduced 1080p by November 2009, Vimeo caught up on 1080p by January 2010.

The pornography industry has been influential in deciding the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD pretty much at the same time, but this wasn’t the start for online HD streaming there yet.

 

Video resolutions and HD streaming on free online porn video sites

We made a status-quo of porn video sites in terms of resolution:

  • 66% of the top 50 free porn tubes have at least parts of their content available in 720p or higher
  • 20% of all sites offer only a resolution below 480p i.e. have quite an outdated standard
  • There is only 1 site (PornHD) that provides every video on offer in 720p

 

Video Streaming Resolution

 

The above shows that the trend is definitely heading towards HD content – both because of availability on production side, but also because of technology capabilities on user side.

On the other hand, one fifth of the sites, including the top dog XVideos and 3 others in the top 10 (Xnxx, SpankBang, YouJizz), are only streaming quite low resolutions i.e. something between 360p and 480p.

It’s worth noting that not every site pretending to stream HD also walks the talk i.e. there are sites that either don’t deliver the expected resolution at all (e.g. SpankBang), or not everywhere as stated (e.g. HDZog).

 

In most cases, the main reason for offering low quality videos is probably not limiting costs of bandwidth or alike as one might think, but rather the fact that most porn tubes rely on a vast amount of so-called “user-generated content” aka “UGC” videos.

These videos are uploaded by users and their source quality determines the final streaming quality of the re-encoded videos that visitors can stream via a site.

In this context it’s worth mentioning that “user generated” doesn’t necessarily mean produced by users but rather uploaded by users i.e. the original video can still derive from a professional studio.

Ali Joone, founder of the porn studio Digital Playground, estimated in 2009 that as much as 99% of content on some tube sites is pirated, much of it uploaded by the tube-site owners themselves instead of users.

So it appears that for some free porn video sites the low quality path will most probably remain while others take the opportunity to further enhance into the direction of HD streaming by moving away from UGC.

 

Free porn videos: Sharp or blurry?

The state of the resolution in free online porn is more and more about sharp HD videos with a majority of the top 50 porn tubes offering at least part of their content in 720p.

Still it’s interesting to see that a lot of leading sites don’t follow this trend and deliver quite outdated quality and consequently a big number of users don’t seem to bother either… yet. If it’s because they don’t care or because they don’t know the alternatives – that’s a different story.

Here’s what we at PornHD think:

The future in free online porn is HD and at one point users will see it as a matter of course. It’s not a question of technology or costs anymore but rather where porn tubes want to position themselves and how well they want to cooperate with content producers.

 

Video streaming resolution – top 50 free porn video sites

Video streaming resolution