Rise in unemployment in US leads to increase in sex-cam workers

With sites offering free content, viewership has increased substantially too

Woman using laptop Representational image | File

A record 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, more of these unemployed workers have started operating as online sex workers.

These newcomers, according to a report in the Rolling Stones are flocking to the industry—camming, shooting custom clips and selling videos to premium Snapchat or Only Fans subscriptions.

Existing sex workers including strippers have started performing in sexually explicit online broadcasts. And with half of the world on stay-at-home orders, there’s a huge growth in customers for such videos.

Evan Seinfeld, the CEO of the subscription service IsMyGirl, was quoted in the Rolling Stones report as saying, “new model signups are up 300% over the past two and a half weeks.” He estimates two-thirds of those are from people new to the industry, many of whom may have been subject to recent layoffs or furloughs.

Earning money via performance videos on platforms that carry explicit content is, however, not as easy as it seems. The performers have to give a cut of their earnings to the site. Also, influx of new talent isn’t welcome news to existing performers, who have spent years building their brands.

An explicit performer, Ms Kane was quoted in a New York Times story as saying, new viewers don’t tip as much, hinting that earnings as a online sex worker might be hard to come by.

A popular site Pornhub announced free access to premium content till April and a Japanese site Soft on Demand made about 200 videos free for viewing on its website in a bid to encourage people to stay at home during lockdown.

So while the number of people taking up work as online sex workers might be increasing, clients or viewers are also losing work and hence tend to prefer free content.

OnlyFans, a website where people subscribe to see the kind of pictures and videos that can’t be displayed on Instagram, reported a 75 per cent increase in overall new sign-ups.

As per a BBC report, StripChat, a site where audiences pay to view live sex videos, saw a 25 per cent increase in viewership in US between February and March, and a 20 per cent increase in Germany. As of March, Pornhub reported an increase of 11.6 per cent in site traffic.

According to data from Pornhub, after the site announced that it will continue to offer free premium content till April 23, it has seen a 57 pre cent spike in traffic in Italy, 38 per cent increase from France and 61 per cent from Spain.