Q&A On Premium Channels

I’ve read all your blog comments since the launch of premium channels.  Part of me is dismayed that there are many negative reactions.  But an even bigger part is thrilled that you guys care enough take the time to express yourselves.

 

Here are some answers to various concerns raised in your comments:

 

Billing Confusions

 

By far the biggest source of complexity in the launch of premium channels comes from our integration with our billing partners.  Put simply, Epoch and CCBill are really good at processing the standard billing model (i.e., charging the same price every month), but are new at doing anything more complicated.

 

When we planned out premium channels, we wanted to let users upgrade and downgrade their subscriptions.  We didn’t realize how much difficultly Epoch and CCBill would have in implementing this functionality until we were deep into the project.  In retrospect, we should have made premium channels available only to new users, and tested the upgrade/downgrade ability on small numbers of existing member until we worked out all the issues.

 

You can find more information on billing for premium channels on our FAQ:

 

http://www.videobox.com/beta/support/faq-s9.seam?subTab=home&mainTab=browse

 

Just know that we are working hard to provide a seamless upgrade and downgrade ability to all our members, regardless of biller.

 

Future Blog Posts

 

You asked lots of questions that are too broad to cover in this one post, but I’d like to discuss in more detail:

 

1)       How we calculate star ratings

2)       How we license content (strategy, legal issues)

3)       Issues with content encoding (aspect ratios, splitting DVDs into groups, etc)

4)       More on billing (different billing models, doing our own billing)

 

Action Items

 

Here are the steps I propose for improving the premium channel integration:

 

1)       We turn off the animation of the flash banner on the home page.

2)       We massage the search results to put all “premium channel” videos at the end.  I still think it’s useful to have the search results integrated in certain highly targeted cases.  For instance, let’s say you like Jenna Haze.  You might want to know that she has 10 scenes on Evil Angel.

 

Let me know if you have any other suggestions.  Thanks!

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38 Responses to “Q&A On Premium Channels”

  1. Dissapointed Customer Says:

    Is it just my imagination or regular content quality is already declining? Crap!

  2. Rael Says:

    Well, I’ve been away for a few days, so this came as a bit of a surprise to me. I think this is a good idea, as long as the quality dosn’t go down on regular VB subscribers. Myself, I will probably check out EAs stuff.

  3. Rael Says:

    And to the dissapointed customer. . . maybe you’re joking, I don’t know, but honestly, most of the vids they upload are crap. And then there a lot of good ones, but just because there is a streak of crap doesn’t mean anything. There have always been long runs of bad uploads. . . and, this is usually a subjective matter, as what constitutes bad uploads for some is good for others.

  4. EmptyTriangle Says:

    I want to see premium gay content available on my straight VB subscription. Uncut, big, fat, juicy cocks rubbing against one another at a decent price in addition to my straight VB fare. That way I can feel straight and still appeal to my inner homosexual tendencies without popping up on anyone’s gaydar. Seriously….gay premium. Is it cumming soon or is that just me?

  5. jfro21 Says:

    Big Important Issue:
    Post Movies with Audio: Some don’t have a soundtrack…

    Medium Important Issues:
    Post HD movies in proper aspect ratio
    Put actress names on each scene and try to standardize them.

    Less Important Issue:
    It would be interesting to know how you convert multiple star ratings into the 1,2,3,x,x, 32000 ranking of scenes BUT what concerns me now is that you have CHANGED the 1,2,3 ranking of scenes after the site change…is this an error or are differences between the highest 5 star and lowest 5 star scenes negligible.

  6. Xanthious Says:

    My main problem still continues to be what looks like a complete and total lack of ANY kind of advanced planning. m sorry but it looks as though you guys got this idea one day and wheeled it out the next figuring to just fix the problems as they came up. This has been nothing short of a total disaster from nearly all aspects. The filter, billing, ratings, and so on are all prime examples of things that could of been prevented with some basic preparation. I can imagine the reason that you never thought billing would be so screwed up is that you never thought to check. See how that works? I really am sorry to sound so harsh but coming from a site I really did view as one of the few in this industry doing things the right way it makes me sad to see something like this turn into the complete and total cluster fuck that its become. I just hope for the sake of VB your “premium” content doesn’t end up costing you more customers than it brings in.

  7. BigBoss Says:

    Sigh…… Either videobox forgot that they still sell 18 month subscriptions, or they stopped selling them before the recent upgrade, idk. Because despite what the FAQ says about the 10 month plan being charged monthly, when I hit UPGRADE, under My Account, it STILL says a one-time charge of $110.00. PLEASE FIX THIS!

  8. Uplink Says:

    I like what jfro21 says..

    -HD movies in the proper aspect ratio…. It seems some WMA files are now 720×480? When are you going to release h.264 720p? And on top of that, a version of the h.264 that works on the PS3!! (the medium quality sucks on a 50″ TV playing on the PS3).. I would pay a “premium” upgrade for a true HD channel.. Movies ripped for Bluray (or even HD-DVD), and maybe even 5.1 sound? Just really good 1080 scenes.

    - Also some positive feedback, I think the channel thing is a good idea.. Not everyone wants this content, and not everyone wants to pay for it, but I for one have been waiting a long time for vivid (and even more for digital playground.. hint hint) to come along, and will gladly pay extra for DRM free movies…….. BUT I do agree, I think you need to get some more movies up faster on the premium channels, beef up the offering right from the start, so you don’t feel like you are paying all that money for maybe 10 good movies?……

    - Last I will say it again, and again.. Add more hentai! (3 movies? come on) :)

  9. brandon76892 Says:

    As far as “Action Item #2″, I say leave the videos mixed as they are now…most of us have our favorite stars and we’ve already seen every video they are in on VB…the banner with the new content is a little incentive to upgrade, I’ll pay for it but I think I’m waiting for a little more content first.

  10. Joe Schmoe Says:

    The new stuff is fine. But my recommendations do not change anymore. Anyone else have this issue?

  11. Papayaman Says:

    Having looked at the Q & A this is very helpful. It still leaves me with a question, which is this. When I click the upgrade button on the premium channel pages it says that my membership of the channel in question will be prorated to a date in September 2008 and I cannot fathom what this means. There may be something that explains it in the Q & A, but if so I’m afraid I missed it. I’d appreciate enlightenment on this point.

    Otherwise I find myself agreeing with Rael. To my mind conservatively 70% of what is produced by porn studios is utter crap. It follows that not all of the VB updates are going to be of stellar quality. I know that I am not going to view most of the updates. It is the three or four good updates a week that justify the subscription. Since introduction of the premium channels I have felt that this normal pattern has been replicated. There have been at least three Red Light District updates and one or two of the Intense and Candy Shop updates I have liked. That’s not a bad haul for a week. So I don’t see this supposed collapse in VB’s quality that some seem to be observing. In any case such a judgement cannot be accurately made on the basis of less than a week (the premium channels were only introduced 5 days ago at time of writing). Some members seem to have thrown a hissy fit without giving much thought to the situation. I suggest waiting at least a couple of months before deciding whether VB has improved, deteriorated or stayed the same.

    I guess that the learning process for VB is that such major changes need to be flagged and explained well in advance. I’m sure it’s a lesson that has not been lost on the folks at VB.

  12. bobsipod Says:

    uhg- i’m done griping. I realized that through all this I found a pattern of behavior on my part. I’d log on, gripe about the situation… then jerk off. Next time i log on, i’d post a follow up gripe… then jerk off. Seems to me that as long as i can log on and jerk off, i’ve run out of things to gripe about, so now that this is done, im gonna… well, you already know.

  13. JoeBoe Says:

    1) You release HD movies yet only the “DVD” resolution maintains the aspect ratio. All other qualities are squeezing the movie into 4:3 aspect ratio, and it is terrible. Users shouldn’t be forced to use other programs (e.g. VLC) to “fix” the aspect ratio while watching. You could make lower resolution widescreen. 480×320 for the “High” and 320×214 for the “Low” and iPod.
    2) You expect people to pay $17/mo more for the premium channels, which is understandable for these production studios which are very strict about leasing, yet the addition rate on these channels are horrible (3 dvd’s per week), no where near as much as the main VB “channel” (35 dvd’s per week). Maybe people would be more receptive to paying the extra price if the service was comparable to the main VB channel.
    3) Can you please focus on adding missing volumes from series? For example, Filthy First Timers: you have added volumes 1, 6, 20, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35 and 36. Um, what happened to the other volumes in-between? I’d rather you start from volume 1 and add incrementally (1,2,3,4…) as opposed to jumping all over the place adding random volumes and have the completion of the series be as a result of saturation.
    4) Why is the DVD resolution 640×480, the low resolution 320×240, the H264 resolution 640×480 and the iPod resolution 320×240 (all of which are standard 4:3) while the High resolution the non-standard 480×352 (giving an aspect ratio of 4.1:3, or 1.364, instead of 4:3 and 1.333)? It’d be great if you could fix this. 6000+ DVDs fix is a lot to ask for, but for people that don’t pay a premium for the DVD resolution why deprive them of a standard resolution?

  14. tom brokaw Says:

    wtf I still haven’t seen anywhere how much it costs for me to upgrade from my 15 dollar a month fee. Why is that so complicated? is it 5 more dollars? 10?

  15. bigkai19 Says:

    I appreciate your response on the matter, but I have a couple of issues, with what was mentioned: THE SEARCH, should have no premium results at all on vb subscriber pages, unless they have the extra service, if a particular star has over one hundred scenes on vb, you don’t want an extra fifty or seventy to look at, when your trying to find a certain scene.
    Also, I have ccbill, but I cannot subscribe to the premium pages, why is this?
    Lastly, as I mentioned before, put the premium banner on the side of the home page, over the blog one, if a member gets interested in adding a premium channel or two, that should be their decision as a paying customer, not have it thrown in our face, day in, and day out.
    Thank you

  16. vaidx41 Says:

    Josh,

    I have been quietly monitoring all the goings on over the last week since you put the premium channels up and i must say 90% of what i have seen from your users has been negative. I thought you might appriciate hearing from a satisfied customer.

    I upgraded my basic VB package to add the Evil Angel channel. I am with CC Bill. i had no problems and ever since have been enjoying top quality filth… It is definately worth the extra money as the quality is sooo much better, i hadn’t watched an EA movie for a very long time instead concentrating on RLD and Plat X etc. I had forgotten how much better EA stuff was.

    I’m really really pleased with what VB has done, so it’s a bit more expensive, your reasons for this are sound and if people don’t want to pay the extra you’re not holding a gun to their heads… it’s put up or shut up time.

    what i’m really saying is i’m really impressed with the changes and keep up the good work. Best Porn site in the known universe (and probably the unknown universe as well).

  17. drawstroke Says:

    The FAQ is getting better but it still needs some work.
    1) Please state what the price is in the FAQ.
    2) The cancellation policy needs to be better defined.
    Will I get a prorated refund? I can see getting billed a few hundred dollars, canceling before one month, and (hopefully) getting most of my money back. And then repeating this after 6 months when there’s more content.

  18. emefer Says:

    whats with the sorry ass movies you been putting out lately you sold your soul to the devil thats that sorry ass company overrated bitch ass vivid who nobody really wanted vivid blows there a bumble gum company u sellout

  19. MATTVEE Says:

    Wow people need to chill out. Some of the updates will be good, some bad. This site is still the best around…the price and the features are incredible.

    You have to respect the fact that VB is listening to their customers and is actively engaging them about issues…Thank you Josh for these updates…I’m not sure we would see such a thing many other places.

    Sure there are some issues and bugs that need to be worked out…Just watch some porn and relax.

  20. Craqshot Says:

    Personally, I find the way that Josh has handled the feedback to be admirable. It’s nice to see a company concerned with providing open information and feedback to their customers on why certain business decisions were made. It’s also great to see them respond to customer feedback and do their best to meet customer expectations. Open communication between businesses and their customers can only serve to improve the relationship between the two.

    Thank you to Videobox for the way you’ve handled the customer reaction to this situation.

  21. jfro21 Says:

    1. What is the upgrade deal anyway? Is there a monthly option to try it out? I don’t feel like investing more than 100 dollars to try something out.
    2. Evil Angel has some great titles I’m quite sure but RLD and Voyeur and others are very fine as well. I think VB HAS BEEN a good deal. I hope it will remain so.
    3. I don’t expect EVERY VB title to be stellar, in fact I appreciate VB taking some risks in trying out some titles that are not down the line crowd-pleasers. I like some of the 3rd World titles, for instance. I don’t know what some commenters here are talking about when they talk about doom and gloom. Some are really crap and VB should probably try hard not to post crap…but I agree that if I get 5 really good SCENES a week (solid 5 stars), I’m OK.

  22. ocdave67 Says:

    For VB members that do not like the flash ad on the main page AND are using firefox, get an add on called Ad Block Plus. Once you have that add on, go to the main page of VB and click on the down arrow next to the ABP stop sign that should be in your Firefox browser. Then click on Open Blockable Items which is the top of the menu. You will see a page at the bottom open up. Scroll down until you find this line..http://www.videobox.com/beta/flash/simple_slideshow.swf
    and click it to make a blocking rule for it. Presto.. The flash ad will be gone when you refresh the page and it will move the newest posted VB movie up and you wont even know an add was ever there. Keep in mind when VB gets rid of the ad and puts something else there you may want to make a new filter to block the change. Just and FYI for the people who do not like that flash ad!!

  23. ocdave67 Says:

    Ooops sorry folks. I notice that VB made their ad link that I mentioned above part of the main flash player of the site. DO NOT block the line I mentioned above. It will not allow you to watch movies on the flash player if you do. Sorry for the bad information. I will screw around with the filter some more and see if there is another way without effecting the rest of the VB site :(

  24. ocdave67 Says:

    This will remove most of the ad and allow you to watch flash scenes.. Make a block rule for these three lines instead..

    http://www.videobox.com/beta/style/shun/base/base/en/text/flash/kiosk/slideshow/member/channels_upgrade.jpg

    http://www.videobox.com/beta/style/shun/base/base/en/text/flash/kiosk/slideshow/member/evil_angel_upgrade.jpg

    http://www.videobox.com/beta/style/shun/base/base/en/text/flash/kiosk/slideshow/member/vivid_upgrade.jpg

    You will have the flash buttons still left of the ad but you will block the images and be able to play movies :)

  25. Draganov2 Says:

    You could also simply download flash block from the Firefox site.

  26. Draganov2 Says:

    I would like an explanation, Josh, of why VB does not use AVI instead of WMV and why WMV8 (which is old) is used instead of WMV9.

    Thank you

  27. Moose19 Says:

    Josh,
    I can appreciate your attempt to offer more content at a premium price, but Vivid?! You’re WAY out of touch with the majority of your membership.
    I love VB & will continue to subscribe as long as you keep feeding me scenes with Bree Olsen, Gianna Michaels & Rucca Paige.
    Better luck next time.

    Allison, we love you – keep posting “This week’s finishers”. Eventually porn directors will realize we’d prefer to jerk-off without having to watch the so-called male talent do the same. And yet I digress…

  28. Lorddork Says:

    Could you please get a tad bit clearer about the billing confusions?
    As it looks right now, I got auto-upgraded to both premium channels and DVD resolution for one month.
    CCBill’s support is out of reach and I start to panic, because the additional cost would be killing me this month. And yes, all VB content is unlocked.

    What is going on?

  29. jaykay Says:

    @Lorddork

    My guess is that the billing companies have specialized themselves in billing customers who would only have 1 kind of subscription.

    I don’t think they have anything in their system, ready to handle upgrades to existing accounts and vice versa with downgrades. I’m pretty sure though that they got no problem with cancelling accounts.

    Which should probably be your way out of this. And then create a new account later on when you got enough money in your bank :)

    Else I don’t really know..

  30. ILTK Says:

    Just give me a way in my preferences so I don’t see “premium content” anywhere, not in regular listings, not in search, nowhere. You are not doing yourself any good by forcing this on people that don’t want to see it, all you are doing is wasting bandwidth and slowly building up more animosity towards this content and VB itself. I don’t care about billing as I won’t upgrade, VB standard stays as it is and I stay, or it degrades and I go back to the NGs.

  31. G Says:

    this really is a disgrace and is a real sign of the times. Who cares about Vivid and it’s soft/cliche porn? And to pay an extra 10 bucks a month for just 100 evil angel videos, with very few updates, is just a bad deal.
    I find it very sad that videobox is going this route. They seem to be squeezing out the long standing members in exchange for some quick money from those who would be silly enough to pay so much more money for such little quantity and quality.
    Videobox….shame on you. If you can;t get vivid and EA or others to get on board, then screw them. But to then lie to us during the 6,000 dvd release, make it cost 10 buck more for each new premium channel and highlight the premium channels much more than the regular content is downright disgraceful.

    Go find some niche studios with more specific fetishes, if you feel you are running low on new dvd ideas. Why not post cuckold vids, humiliation vids, alt-porn, punk girls, goth girls, bisexual vids, etc. etc. i am sure the studios who produce niche fetish vids will not be asking for premium status!!!

  32. M6 Says:

    Is something going to be done to address the fact that a large percentage of the Vivid vids are poorly ripped and have the multi-angle skipping thing that makes them all-but-unwatchable? I’m paying extra for this???

  33. yesman Says:

    Thanks for the banner and results change. I think the dismayed reactions will fade in time if you guys stick to your word and don’t lower the content quality. A lot of it is probably fear of videobox changing or all other top studios going premium. This is the best porn site out there, but we’ve all seen good things that become successful and then change in ways we didn’t like, so we just don’t want that to happen to videobox. There’s nothing inherently bad about premium channels. We’re just worried over what ifs. Videobox is the best porn service with people running it who care about the subscribers. Take the reaction as a sign of how much people like the site. They like it so much they sound the alarms when a change comes. ;)

  34. Cree Says:

    I may not be the only one but I have been unable to login after signing up with CCbill. They have now billed my credit card twice (as I tried two different login names) and I am unable to access the service.

    I am not sure if it is a Videobox problem or CCbill issue but taking someone’s money and then not delivering any product/service reminds me a little of Madoff and is a crime / fraud.

    Please fix this issue ASAP – refund my money and lets get back on good terms.

    Cree

  35. Freddy Says:

    You mentioned here, or else very recently, that you were working to reduce the cost of premium channels, following some adverse comments. Where would that leave those who’ve already signed up? Will they get any future reduction, or will they be left on the current monthly cost?

  36. rojo Says:

    Let me say I am a very happy VB subscriber since 06 and always thought of VB as a premium site. I know on a daily basis the new videos will be some good some not so good, but I always find something that “works for me”. I do not like this premium upgrade thing AT ALL! Makes me feel like there is something better out there, a feeling I NEVER got before.

  37. harstad Says:

    I’m a premium subscriber. If I upgrade its going to cost me ANOTHER $17.95 a month??

  38. Dee Says:

    I think it is a fine what you are doing. I mean your price model is better than most. I appreciate it. If you want to offer better services at a higher price, that is fine. I am just happy that you are not raising the existing price.

    Maybe the token idea is a bit better, but it would still add to the confusion. So, I say keep doing what you are doing. I think that everyone is a bit perturbed about it because it was not included in the 9.95 price, but you have to recover your costs by these studios somehow and your asking price is fair. Just keep adding videos to the main site and I think everyone will be happy.