I've been sent chain emails about pornography industry revenues and was quite flabbergasted by some of the figures. The version I recalled hearing was that pornography brings in more revenue than all US sports franchises combined. I looked around for some quotes so I could ask about this here, and it turns out that there are several related stats, so I included them all:

Bigger than all sports franchises in the US combined:

The sex industry is HUGE - $57 Billion Worldwide, $12+ Billion in the United States. It is larger than all the sport franchises put together. (SOURCE)

Adult entertainment model Jasmine Mai told the BBC: "The adult industry is bigger than every professional sport combined. (SOURCE)

Bigger than all top technology companies combined:

The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink (SOURCE)

Bigger than top television broadcasting channels combined:

US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC. (SOURCE)


Question: Does the pornography industry have higher earnings than the respective combined earnings of US sports franchises, top tech companies, and top broadcasting networks (ABC/NBC/CBS)?

  • The only one I can see being plausible being the broadcasting networks. – Chad Jul 5 '11 at 20:59
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    you're assuming that "sex industry" == "porno industry", which is wrong. – vartec Jul 6 '11 at 7:50
  • @vartec: where am I assuming that? The quote above might, but variations exist explicitly comparing pornography to all sports, such as HERE, HERE, and HERE. The last also includes a surprisingly detailed debunking! – Hendy Jul 7 '11 at 2:50
up vote 22 down vote accepted

The sex industry is HUGE - $57 Billion Worldwide, $12+ Billion in the United States. It is larger than all the sport franchises put together

The NFL had 7.2 Billion In gross revenue in 2010 [ Source ]

The MLB had 6.6 Billion in revenue in 2009 [ Source ]

The NHL projected about 2.7 Billion in revenue for the 2009-2010 season [ SOURCE ]

These totals would exceed the "$12+ Billion in the United States" cited by the source with out including Nascar (I can find claims of around 3 billion with no source but seems reasonable), Golf, Tennis, Other racing ( I would love to see statistics of all the revenue from the local tracks ), or any of the less followed sports.

Then there is that one sport with the white and black hexagon PENTAGON ball that a handful of people follow around the world... ($216B world wide) [ SOURCE ] thats almost 4x the estimate from the post.

Bigger than all top technology companies combined:

Apple had 65 Billion in sales in 2010 [ SOURCE ]

Microsoft had 62 Billion [ Source ]

Google had 29 Billion [ SOURCE ]

So I think that compared to the 57 billion thats busted. Even if it has duobled since 2005 these 3 still beat it. (No pun intended)

Bigger than top television broadcasting channels combined:

Comcast(NBC) had revenues of almost 38 billion [ SOURCE ]

Disney(ABC) and revenues of 38 billion [ SOURCE ]

Viacom(CBS) had revenues of 14 billion ins 2008 (for ease since it gets messy with mergers and sales) [ SOURCE ]

While Disney is more than just ABC, and Comcast is more than just NBC, Viacom is just a broadcast company. It alone exceeded the 12 billion quoted above for the US.

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    +1, especially for finding the football source. As a side note, traditional football has white hexagons and black pentagons, modern footballs aren't made of leather anymore. – vartec Jul 6 '11 at 15:12
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    I wonder: is the $57 Billion Worldwide figure even accurate? – Sklivvz Jul 6 '11 at 15:16
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    There is no hexagons in football.. ohh you are talking about that one thing... soccer – Chad Jul 6 '11 at 15:24
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    @Vartec the polite term is "hand-egg" ;) – Beofett Jul 6 '11 at 16:38
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    meh, I'm F1 fan anyhow ;-) – vartec Jul 7 '11 at 7:48

The sex industry is HUGE - $57 Billion Worldwide [...] The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink

Even assuming that $57 billion figure is true, not only is it not bigger than all of the companies combined, it's not even bigger than just one of them. Microsoft's revenue for 2010 was $62.4 billion.


As for being bigger than all professional sport, here are some figures:

  • total US sports industry is estimated to have a revenue of $414bn;
  • MLB ($6.8bn) + NFL ($7.8bn) + NBA ($4.0bn) + NHL ($3.0bn) = $21.6bn; which is far more than $12bn; estimated for US sex industry. And that's just 4 leagues, not all professional sport.
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    +1 for noticing that. Additionally, comparing an entire industry to a particular company seems weak since the sex industry appears to have a lot of small players -- "Playboy" is a name that I would consider to be one of the big players: google.com/finance?q=NYSE:PLA.A – Randolf Richardson Jul 6 '11 at 1:20
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    -1 because because you are combining factoids from two different links/sources: just because one of them is false doesn't require the other one to be false too; and/or perhaps the two sources are each using different measures of "the pornography industry". – ChrisW Jul 6 '11 at 2:08
  • @ChrisW the source he is refuting is the original poster's claim. Though as I think about it im not sure you couldnt say that some of MS's revenue is at least indirectly a result of the sex industry. – Chad Jul 6 '11 at 13:12
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    @Chad - Two claims from two different sources: a) "Sex = $57B"; and b) "Bigger than top tech companies". The two claims seem to contradict each other but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're both false. – ChrisW Jul 6 '11 at 13:27
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    @ChrisW well the poster is the one claiming the 57b world wide in the sex industry. I dont see why vartec deserves the vote down for the original poster's claim. – Chad Jul 6 '11 at 14:19

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