A2W Digital Communications owner Jonathan Donner is an expert in the evolution of dot-coms. After all, he's had first-hand experience. Once upon a time, many business models ago, Donner provided live streaming of predominantly adult material. "The primary business was a 24/7 live studio," he says, "in addition to A2W building, maintaining, serving, and hosting Websites."
When Donner shut down his studio just before October 2000, the then-VP of Flynt Digital asked Donner to come in as a consultant and "assist in generating new revenue and new Webmaster products," he says. Intrigued by some of Flynt's discarded projects, Donner arranged to license and operate them. Among them were Broadcastsex.com, which started several years before at Flynt; Donner assumed control of the site in the reorganization. "We relaunched Broadcastsex.com - a redefined version of it - in March of this year," Donner says. "[It] was originally built around a pay-per-channel model."
Further explanation of the old model illuminates the new: "The channel model's a difficult model based on bandwidth," he says. "The economics are - let's say you have surplus bandwidth that you don't have a cost associated with. It makes sense to build something like the original version of Broadcastsex if you have surplus bandwidth that you don't pay for. We took over Broadcastsex, [and] we have surplus bandwidth, but not enough to go with that model and have it make sense."
The version of Broadcastsex that's currently operating is a retail membership site, where the user pays a monthly fee for access to photo galleries, video clips, erotic stories, Adult Stars magazine, product from Danni Ashe, and the like. "Additionally, in our Broadcastsex networks archive, we give the members somewhere between 10 and 30 films a month to take a look at - basically samples from some of the other channels that we have," says Donner. "That's included in their monthly membership."
The second phase of the relaunch, says Donner, is a pay-per-view model, where users pay, for example, by the viewing or by the week. "The economics work a little better there. It's kind of like pay-per-view TV. And utilizing RealVideo 8, what we currently use, you can literally broadcast full-screen, full-motion, VHS-quality over the Web. We've developed a couple of databases that customize [the user's] viewing experience, what channels are wanted. I believe the end user has favorites: favorite porn stars, favorite studios, favorite genres of film. We've built a database that, when implemented, will allow [users] to search according to their favorite interests.
"We also created an affiliate Webmaster program called Broadcastbox," Donner adds. "You go to the Webmaster's portion [of Broadcastsex.com]; payout structure, banners, all the information is provided there. The angle on Broadcastbox is we give our Webmasters who send us traffic a 50-50 [or better] partnership on a recurring basis. They may not earn the [typical] $30-40 on an initial sign-up, they may earn $15-16; but they will continue to earn that money for the life of their member. A unique situation."
Broadcastsex.com's success is due to staying the course as Donner set it. "Our goal when we took over Broadcastsex, was we wanted to hedge our bets, not place all our eggs in one basket and just go with the video-on-demand concept, which was the original version," he says. "We wanted to make sure we generated stable revenue, and that was done through turning it into a membership megasite, along with video. Video, instead of being the primary focus of Broadcastsex, is now gravy."
Keeping abreast of change is key. "We look at most of our - I wouldn't call them competitors, I'd call them associates - we look at most of our other associates' product in the business, and just see where we could possibly make it a little better, a little niftier. On the technology side, we follow all the technical developments at Real.com; we have a team of people who have worked with this [Real] product over the course of almost three years now, and have really gained a very deep knowledge of the product.
It's constant refinement, Donner says. "The changes [in this industry] are very dramatic and very rapid. We focus on delivering; utilizing the tools and being aware of what's going on in the marketplace enables us to deliver the best-quality product to the end user."
In addition to being sensitive to constantly fluctuating technology and trends, the Broadcastsex.com team has implemented changes of its own. "When we first redesigned Broadcastsex, we went with a look that was similar to Tabookink.com, a Hustler Website; I hired the same designer and we went with a very dark 'techno' look. We found, after running this on a trial basis for 90 days and looking at the statistics, that dark no longer converts well in the marketplace. And we went out and took a look at what all the other majors were doing: Everyone was going with a white look. So we sat down and redesigned Broadcastsex.com and relaunched with a much lighter look; I like to call it 'non-threatening.'"
Keeping Broadcastsex.com viable is a matter of daily attention and Business 101 checks-and-balances. "We update our content on a regular basis, we're always out looking for new content that won't be overexposed on the Web - unique, exclusive content."
Finally, Donner is generous about attributing part of Broadcastsex.com's success to their third-party processor. "We've gone with CCBill," he says, "established a wonderful relationship with the company. They've bent over backwards to help us, launching our product, dealing with technical issues. We've found them to be one of the most reliable third-party processors. The biggest thing for me was, I wanted to make sure that the Webmasters knew they were going to get paid. And going through CCBill, they get paid on time."