This article was published on August 17, 2018

Pornhub subsidiary wants to pay you cryptocurrency for watching porn – but don’t get too excited

Don't get too excited prematurely

Pornhub subsidiary wants to pay you cryptocurrency for watching porn – but don’t get too excited

Adult entertainment streaming service Tube8 – a Pornhub subsidiary with over 150 million page visits each month – wants to reward your porn-watching habits with cryptocurrency… so it is putting its entire platform on the blockchain.

In a note exclusively shared with Hard Fork, the company revealed it has entered an agreement with Vice Industry Token (VIT) that will see its platform entirely tokenized. The collaboration will enable users to earn VIT tokens for streaming and interacting with Tube8 videos.

The token implementation is expected to take place by the end of the year. The move will make Tube8 the very first major adult platform to adopt token-based rewards and actually pay its users for their activity on the website.

But before you get too excited about turning your pornography addiction into a career, there are a few red flags you should know about.

Porn on the blockchain

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The adult entertainment sector has long had a reputation as an early technology adopter – one backed by a solid record of pioneering innovation. Tube8 is clearly on a mission to keep this tradition alive.

With 150 million monthly visits, the Pornhub underling can truly spearhead cryptocurrency adoption to the mainstream.

For as long as I can remember, getting paid to watch porn was always a pipedream; one that was always dreamed about, but never fully realized,” Tube8 spokesperson Robin Turner told Hard Fork. “Now however, with the introduction of VIT, we are marking a paradigm shift in how people consume adult entertainment,”

“As opposed to having to fork over money to consume content, which some sites require, our users will get paid to consume our free content,” he continued. “The more they interact with our videos, the more money they earn.”

Tube8 did not share how its crypto-rewards will be calculated, but chances are the platform will set certain reward limits to prevent users from gaming the system for profits.

One thing users won’t have to worry about is paying extra fees to use their tokens. “There are no fees but [Tube8 and Vice Industry Token] will hopefully benefit mutually by expanding their user bases and increasing engagement with their respective products through this collaboration,” Turner told Hard Fork.

The choice to revamp its platform with a fresh user engagement model makes sense, but the rationale for partnering with Vice Industry Token begs some questions – especially factoring in the heated controversy the token distributor was recently embroiled in.

VIT offers Tube8 a way to reward their viewers by monetizing content through the VIT protocol,” Turner told Hard Fork when asked about the decision to team up with Vice Industry Token. Whereas before users would log in, watch a few videos and leave, VIT incentivizes them to create an account and interact with the content to generate Vice Tokens.”

“It is the only cryptocurrency that is designed specifically for tokenizing and rewarding viewers of free content on tube sites,” the Tube8 spokesperson continued. “Anyone can earn VIT and anyone can buy VIT.”

Despite Tube8’s insistence Vice Industry Token is the only solution specifically built for integrating token-based rewards, there are tons of other blockchain startups providing similar services – though not all of them are fully centralized (which nullifies some of the biggest advantages of using blockchain).

Indeed, the benefits of Vice Industry Token’s tech to Tube8 are not immediately clear.

That said, Vice Industry Token has managed to strike deals with a number of adult industry household names, including a collaboration with Trump whistleblower Stormy Daniels. So there is clearly something that is making the offering attractive to industry insiders (and hopefully that is not Vice Industry Token’s sales team).

Tube8 has over 10 million registered users who frequent the platform regularly,” Turner shared with Hard Fork. “Considering the popularity of cryptocurrency right now, it only made sense to pay them for watching, and interacting with, our videos. We value their attention and want to keep them coming back for more!”

There’s no doubt that rewarding users for pleasure is an offering likely to pique the interest of many across the globe. But given their lofty ambitions and user base, Tube8 and Vice Industry Token have got some equally hefty technological hurdles ahead of themselves.

Size matters

One of the first challenges that comes to mind is scale.

Tokenizing a platform with a 10 million-strong user base and 150 million monthly visits is by no means an easy task. In fact, this would be downright impossible on certain blockchain networks like Ethereum, according to co-founder Vitalik Buterin himself.

At present, Ethereum can handle roughly 15 transactions per second – far less than Tube8 would need to keep its millions of horny users properly rewarded.

While Vice Industry Token has plans to migrate to a forked version of the Steem blockchain (more commonly known as Graphene) that purportedly can handle a throughput of 100,000 transactions per second, its VIT token is based on Ethereum. The company ran an initial coin offering (ICO) on the Ethereum network, offering VIT as an ERC20 token.

Given that (as an ERC20 token) VIT suffers from the same limitations Ethereum does, the only way to tokenize Tube8 without clogging the entire blockchain would be by giving up decentralization – and running the VIT reward-based integration on Tube8 through a centralized server.

Such workarounds arguably serve as bootstrapped experiments in blockchain technology; and some companies find this as a more than acceptable trade-off for pushing cryptocurrencies to mainstream adoption. Though it is worth pointing out that this kind of compromises are hardly lauded in the blockchain space.

When asked about its plans to deal with the Ethereum-specific technological obstacles of its Vice Token integration, Tube8 suggested VIT has successfully transitioned to Graphene, and is no longer running on Ethereum.

“VIT’s blockchain, based on Graphene, can indeed handle the number of transactions required with no fee unlike Ethereum,” Turner told Hard Fork. “VIT uses DPoS [Delegated Proof-of-Stake] and is fully decentralized. [It] is the only true working fork of [S]teem in existence.”

But according to Vice Industry Token reps on Telegram, VIT still runs on the ERC20 protocol. CEO Stuart Duncan seems to agree too. “Everyone needs to understand there are a lot of moving parts to get [G]raphene as a software fork of [S]teem to run our platforms,” Duncan told VIT holders back in July.

Among other things, Duncan admitted on Telegram that one of the main roadblocks ahead of the Graphene migration is making sure the VIT-powered fork of Steem is bug-free. He also added the company is working hard on fixing certain “minor” bugs in a blog post from last month.

Whatever the case is though, Vice Industry Token is far from having a stable working product. And if history is any guide, mainnet blockchain launches can be awfully nightmarish.

Porn-driven rewards

In the meantime, Tube8 is hardly the only adult entertainment insider seeking to introduce tokenized rewards.

Playboy similarly announced plans to implement Vice Industry Token back in May. However, this week news surfaced that the implementation has gone awry. Indeed, Playboy is reportedly suing the company responsible for the implementation – Global Blockchain Technologies (BLOC) – for fraud and breach of contract.

For clarity, BLOC seemingly has no direct relation to Vice Industry Token – other than botching the VIT implementation for Playboy. But there is clearly many challenges associated with integrating such solution in the first place, and Tube8 will likely have to deal with such risks too.

Pornhub previously integrated cryptocurrency payments (powered by Verge and later TRON) on its platform, but Tube8’s integration with VIT is a far more grandiose undertaking – one that can change the entire blockchain industry as we know it.

For those unfamiliar, it was precisely the porn industry that spurred the wide adoption of VHS back in the 1970s. Then it did the same with DVDs in the early-2000s, and with online streaming a couple of years later.

Tube8 could prove to be the gateway to tokenizing the entire Pornhub Network (whose roster touts popular adult content streaming services like Pornhub, YouPorn, and RedTube). Just to give you an idea of how big this move could be: Tube8 attracts 150 monthly visits, YouPorn brings in almost 360 million visits, RedTube claims 510 million visits, and Pornhub – 2.8 billion.

Say what you will, but if there ever was a good candidate to usher in real cryptocurrency mass adoption, it would be Pornhub.

If the Tube8 cryptocurrency experiment succeeds, it can become the much-needed proof the token economy has a bright future. But until Vice Industry Token solves its technological issues, there is always a risk this could turn into another Playboy situation.

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