Focus on...Jean Finez and the ECO-INTIME project

on the February 15, 2021

Jean Finez is assistant professor in sociology and is interested in the functioning of digital markets. He has been member of the Pacte lab for 3 years. He is currently working with Pierre Brasseur, Jean-Marc Francony and Jingyue Xing on research devoted to the platform economy for the broadcasting of live pornographic shows.
This project began with a qualitative survey through interviews together with Pierre Brasseur, among the broadcasters of pornographic shows, a population that is difficult to investigate. While this survey made it possible to analyze the professional trajectories and to understand the broadcasting practices of the models, the two researchers faced the challenge of the sample representativeness. The people who were spotted on Twitter and who agreed to be interviewed were in fact almost all young women, very involved in the business, and who earned enough money from their shows to make a living out of it.
But where do these interviewees fit into the set of models who broadcast pornographic shows on the Internet? And do all the broadcasters manage to make money? And what makes for economic success? To answer these questions, Jean Finez then decided to conduct a quantitative survey, based on digital data available on webcam show platforms.
The survey is based on an automated data recovery tool (SwellScraper) wrote by Jean-Marc Francony. The data are collected from a platform that continuously broadcasts several hundreds or even several thousands shows. The data acquisition consisted in collecting every 5 minutes, for 30 days, information relating to the amount of payment, the number of viewers and the duration of the show, as well as data from the broadcasters' profiles (sex, sexual orientation, age, date of registration on the site, "about me", presence of links to social media, etc.). The collection leads to the constitution of a database of about 70,000 shows, preprocessed and analyzed by Jingyue Xing.
The results show that most broadcasters are men (79%), but that they very rarely earn money and usually have almost no audience. They are mostly exhibitionists, who generally put on shows for the pleasure of being watched. Women, on the other hand, have, on average, more spectators and earn more money. But it is often small sums, a few euros. Only a minority of models, about 1% of all broadcasters, are successful enough to earn a sizeable income from their activity. The "1%" is made up of young women, who broadcast shows very regularly, who have a loyal clientele and who make a lot of efforts in terms of communication and fidelization in order to maintain it. In other words, the people who agreed to be interviewed belong to this minority subgroup. And with good reason: their success is based on intense work to promote their activities on social media, including Twitter.

The results of the survey confirm other research on web content distributors, and in particular on livestreaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live or equivalent. On these platforms, popularity and economic success only concern a minority of broadcasters and is achieved at the cost of a very significant effort of professionalization.

Published on February 15, 2021