For the past three years, amateur mega-site Homegrown Video has worked with a partner company selling their content to Websites through a firm called XS Content. In January of this year, their partner no longer in the picture, XS Content became Homegrown Content (www.homegrowncontent.com).
Farrell Timlake, who owns Homegrown with his brother Moffitt and Techno-Jack-of-All-Trades Spike Goldberg, explains: "During those years we were working with the other company, we didn't think it was necessary to change the name. XS Content seemed to work. But since it's just us, it's obvious that it needs to be 'Homegrown Content.' That way people know exactly what they're getting."
And what Webmasters are getting when they lease content from Homegrown Content is access to the ever-expanding archive of all-amateur videos, photos, and livecam performances that Homegrown Video is famous for.
Homegrown Video was founded by a group of San Diego swingers in the early 1980s. The Timlakes took over in 1993. Farrell and his wife Alyssa Jarreau had been submitting homemade sex tapes to Homegrown for about a year (and wondering why they weren't getting paid) when they discovered that the company was about to go under. As aficionados as well as creators of amateur porn, they had worked in the mainstream porn industry in L.A. for a while. That experience had made it clear that, for them, amateur was what it was all about.
"The sexuality of amateur is about having a good time," says Farrell. "You can't fake that. Everyone can tell the difference between real and faked orgasms. It's not the groaning, it's the flush of someone's cheeks, the sweat. Mainstream is so mechanical: 'Get into this position, that position, now the pop shot.' It has no warmth."
So Farrell borrowed money from his mother and bought Homegrown out of bankruptcy. From their very first planning sessions, the Timlakes knew that the then-infant Internet would play a large part in their business.
"Right from the beginning," Farrell says, "we met with a consultant and we were trying to figure out our way into what we saw then as the future of broadcasting. It's amazing to realize how progressive we were then. The Internet took a while to get established, but now it's part of everyday life and, for us, it's just getting better and better."
The allure of Homegrown Content for Webmasters - and their customers - is the content itself. At the core is Homegrown Video's library of more than 600 volumes featuring home videos of thousands of amateur performers. Supplementing these are videos produced by Farrell and marketed under the brand name Xplor Video. These tapes also feature amateur performers, but with higher production values because they are shot by professionals. Still photos, live-cam shows, and archives of past live shows are also available. What's more, Homegrown Content offers the raw, unedited home videos exactly as they come into the office (Homegrown gets an average of ten new videos a week from submitters).
"When we edit a video," Farrell explains, "we have to cut the footage so that we can fit in X-number of scenes to please the distributors. But on the Internet, people want to see everything - the bloopers and the blunders, the cat walking by. It's reality, and uncut reality is what people want to see."
All Homegrown content is conveniently sorted by niche - "cream-pie," "hairy," "housewife," "interracial," to name just a few. That makes it easy for users to find their way through the mass of available material to whatever strikes their fancy.
Spike Goldberg is the man responsible for getting the content online. He came into the Homegrown family four years ago when he asked Farrell, a family friend, for advice on starting his own business. Timlake warned him, "It's rough out there," and invited him to come on board at Homegrown. Spike became a partner two years ago when he took over operations of the content business.
Homegrown Content leases material to Webmasters on a month-to-month basis. Current customers include some of the biggies in adult entertainment online: CyberErotica, CEN, and Hustler feature Homegrown Content on their sites. Goldberg explains how it works: "They post a secure page - a discrete link, which takes their members to a page which has our feed.
"We have six different products - Homegrown TV; Xplor TV; Live-Cam; Photos; Amateur Hour; and Homegrown on Demand," he continues. "We offer � la carte choices as well as packaged deals, all based on what we consider to be an acceptable amount of bandwidth usage per month. A customer will come in and they'll look at the demos. We'll show them the layout for different packages, including the full, six-product package, which is a great deal. Whatever � la carte product or package they choose, they get 30 gigs of bandwidth usage per month for a set price."
Goldberg posts a statistical page which customers can log onto, and every night Homegrown's servers tally up how much bandwidth was used. "It's like a utility," Farrell explains. "The more a Website's members are sucking down our feed, the more they pay. But there's a discount for volume of use: When they go over 30 gigs, there's a scale where they pay less per gig than the 30-gig price. Most of our customers don't go over the 30-gig limit, but some of the big ones do."
Bandwidth usage can vary significantly based on the quality of a member's connection to the Internet. Windows Media, the plug-in of choice for Homegrown's sites (and for most of the adult entertainment industry on line) has brought a high level of sophistication to streaming video. Users have a lot of control they didn't have before, like fast-forward and sliding bars that tell them where they are in a given clip. "They can also choose one of three speeds for our video categories," Goldberg explains. "One of them is what I call 'light broadband,' where the user receives 100K per second. That user is going to use more bandwidth than someone who's receiving data at 37K, which is our low-end streaming."
"But we're looking at just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Windows Media offers," Goldberg promises. "There's a lot of stuff we can do with it that we don't do yet because the users capabilities aren't developed enough."
Committed to pushing the edge of what is possible with current technology, Goldberg stays in close touch with Homegrown Content clients, offering individualized technical support. "We have the content. The challenge is to get it to as many users as we can at the highest possible quality we can and to make it as easy for them as possible."
Now that Homegrown Content is available on other sites like CyberErotica, are the people at Homegrown Video worried they'll lose subscribers? "No way," Goldberg assures. "There's lots of amazing stuff we keep exclusive to Homegrown Video that you'll never get to see anywhere else. And there's material available through Homegrown Content - the raw stuff, for instance - that you may not ever see on Homegrown Video."
Sounds like Webmasters and amateur lovers will be very, very happy for a long, long time.