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Analyzing Pornhub’s 2023 Report: Understanding the Real Impact

As we dissect Pornhub's annual report for 2023, we uncover more than just statistics. From unreported metrics to the concerning portrayal of individuals and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes, this analysis sheds light on the often overlooked consequences of the mainstream porn industry.

By February 2, 2024No Comments

It’s the beginning of a new year, ringing in the opportunity to reflect on how we progressed in 2023—what united us, made us stronger, and, you guessed it, influenced society’s collective porn habits.

One of the industry’s most popular porn sites—owned and operated by the company that controls much of the mainstream porn industry (and has faced lawsuits for profiting off of rape, abuse, and child sex trafficking)—gives the public a look into society’s all-consuming obsession with hardcore porn in their annual report.

The report illuminates various aspects of people’s porn-consuming habits, including what they watch, where, when, and how often.

To begin, we must acknowledge that we cannot fact-check these metrics to ensure accurate reporting. Therefore, we (unfortunately) have to take Pornhub’s word for it with a few grains of salt. Pornhub is our preferred platform for studying societal porn habits. This is because it holds the position of being the top free porn site on the internet and the 13th most-visited site globally. By sampling people’s habits on Pornhub, we gain valuable insights into the overall direction of porn consumption.

But if our organization’s goal is to raise awareness of the harmful effects of porn, not draw people more to it, why report on these metrics at all?

Simply put, the more we understand the issue, the better we can educate others.

With that said, let’s dive in.

BHW - The Heart

Rule 34—if it exists, there’s porn of it

You may have heard of the infamous Rule 34. It’s circulated since its beginning as a comical list of protocols and conventions that first appeared years ago on a popular online forum. It states, “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.” In our organization’s 14-year history, we’ve definitely seen that to be true.

If you can envision a pornographic scenario, style, or theme—no matter how random or innocent—it already exists online. If it hasn’t surfaced yet, someone will create such porn sooner or later.

Anyone can use artificial intelligence to create exploitative deepfake porn by taking images of individuals, from celebrities to classmates. Shocking, yes, but that’s the reality of the world we live in.

Let’s unpack more of what this year’s report reveals—and what it doesn’t.

What Pornhub’s report fails to include

Let’s start by talking about what the report very conveniently (in Pornhub’s favor) doesn’t include.

The metrics Pornhub publishes paint a clear picture of just how popular and normalized porn is in society. Since 2013, when the “year in review” started, Pornhub has consistently shared detailed analytics. These metrics cover various aspects, including site visits, videos consumed, and the total amount of new content uploaded to the site.

But since 2021, Pornhub has notably broken tradition and failed to report on any of those categories. (Find links to our previous writeups since 2014 at the end of this article.)

This comes as no surprise, seeing as, in December 2020, Pornhub was globally called-out in a New York Times article for their years of reportedly hosting and profiting from nonconsensual content and child exploitation images. The bombshell report had several repercussions. This included Visa, Mastercard, and Discover severing ties with Pornhub, suspending payment processing services on the site. Pornhub responded by announcing increased site restrictions and moderation, along with purging allegedly over 14 million unverified videos.

This year’s report also omits categories like “teen” and “barely legal” in its “Most Searched For Terms” of the year—which have topped the charts in just about every year prior and are expected to be high in search volume according to other sources like Google Trend Graphs. Is it a coincidence that these categories are completely missing from Pornhub’s data altogether? Given the heat the site has faced in recent years and its efforts to win back public opinion, we don’t think so either.

Another dark but compelling theory as to why these categories are missing from the metrics is that content fetishizing underage girls and teens are so popular in the porn world that “teen” porn has been absorbed by many of the other categories. So it’s not that sexualized underage or “barely legal” girls are any less popular, but that this content might not be distinguished or different from all the rest of the top categories. Creepy, right?

Related: The New York Times Exposé That Helped Spark the Possible Beginning of the End of Pornhub

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The report also shows visitor demographics in categories starting at age 18 up to age 65+. This clearly disregards the reality that a significant portion of site visitors are underage.

In fact, in 2014, one study found that 42% of 10 to 17-year-olds had seen porn Wright, P. J., & Donnerstein, E. (2014). Sex online: Pornography, sexual solicitation, and sexting. Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 25(3), 574–589.Copy ; in 2021, another study found that number was 63-68%. Bőthe, B., Vaillancourt-Morel, MP., Dion, J. et al. A Longitudinal Study of Adolescents’ Pornography Use Frequency, Motivations, and Problematic Use Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Arch Sex Behav 51, 139–156 (2022).Copy  In 2022, some researchers found this number to be as high as 85%.

Another report titled “Teens and Pornography” Robb, M.B., & Mann, S. (2023). Teens and pornography. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense.Copy  put together by Common Sense includes data collected from teens 13-17 years old with various backgrounds. Three-quarters of surveyed teens reported having seen porn, and this exposure influences their perspectives on sex and sexual relationships.

All participants who reported seeing porn claimed exposure by the age of 12.Robb, M.B., & Mann, S. (2023). Teens and pornography. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense.Copy  Another 15% said they saw it for the first time when they were 10 years old or younger.Robb, M.B., & Mann, S. (2023). Teens and pornography. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense.Copy  Most teens (73%) reported that they have consumed pornography.Robb, M.B., & Mann, S. (2023). Teens and pornography. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense.Copy  Many teens are even watching or first exposed to porn at school.

Teens are learning to have sex from porn. This is especially concerning, given how toxic and harmful porn can be. One 2021 study, for example, found that at least 1 in 3 and as many as 9 in 10 porn videos show sexual violence or aggression. Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab0357Copy  Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A descriptive analysis of the types, targets, and relative frequency of aggression in mainstream pornography. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(8), 3041-3053. doi:10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0Copy  Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and sexual behavior in best-selling pornography videos: a content analysis update. Violence against women, 16(10), 1065–1085. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210382866Copy 

And whether they want to see it or not, these teens often have no choice. Pornhub’s 2023 report showed that nearly 93% of traffic to the site is by phone. Most youth today have a smartphone by age eleven Rideout, V., and Robb, M. B. (2019). The Common Sense Census: Media Use By Tweens and Teens, 2019. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.Copy  and the average age of first exposure to porn is twelve, with some exposed as young as seven. It’s not much of a stretch to make the connection there. And the extent to which Pornhub “verifies” a visitors’ age is simply a pop-up where anyone can check the box that they’re over the age of 18.

Several states have passed porn age verification laws in an effort to prevent children from being exposed to harmful content online. The new legislation requires any website containing 33.3% or more pornographic material to verify the users’ age using a government ID and also makes porn sites liable for content deemed “harmful to minors.”

Pornhub’s response has been to completely block every state that has implemented age verification laws from accessing the site by identifying state-based IP addresses.

However, Pornhub’s retaliation barely hinders visitors in those states, as a simple VPN can easily bypass it. In fact, after Pornhub blocked access to its users in Utah, VPN Mentor conducted, analyzed, and published research showing a surge of 967% in VPN demand in the state..

It’s safe to say Pornhub’s age metrics aren’t only skewed but intentionally turn a blind eye to the fact that underage children and teens can and do all too easily access hardcore content on its site.

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What we learned about society’s porn habits in 2023

With that said, the report provides insight into important considerations from the billions of visits to Pornhub in 2023.

While Pornhub has left this data out of their annual report in recent years, their 2019 report said there were more than 42,000,000,000 site visits to Pornhub—nearly 6 visits to the site per person on Earth—and 8.5 billion more visits total than in 2018. In perspective, that’s over 23 million more visits per day in 2019 than in 2018.

Let’s take a look at the “trends that defined 2023”.


“Granny” searches grew by an astounding +132%, and “GILF” (Grandma I’d Like To F***) by +168%, with terms like “sexy granny” and “hot GILF” trending.

Various search terms related to size also defined the year. “Big,” “bigger,” and “biggest” collectively grew by +177% worldwide. Searches containing “huge” grew by +67%, and the term “massive” grew by +91%.

The “Big A**” and “Big D***” categories were two of the longest viewed this year, increasing +90 seconds in 2023 to over 14 minutes of view time each—about 4 minutes longer than the average visitor’s time on the site.

Technology was also a dominant theme, with “android” being a top trending search that grew by a staggering +1689%. Searches containing “robot” grew by +304%. With growing interest in AI programs like ChatGPT, this may not be too much of a surprise. Terms including “sex machine” and mechanized sex toys also skyrocketed.

Searches containing “uniform” (military, copy, maid) grew by +243%. “Soldier” searches grew by +332%. There could be a correlation between world events, including ongoing wars and conflicts.

Worldwide “therapy” searches surged by +334% since 2022. It became a top trending search in Western countries such as Canada (+566%) and Australia (+541%).

Here’s what Pornhub reports were the most searched-for terms in 2023:


“Hentai” has held the top spot for three years running. (More on that later). In the United States, the term “gangbang” saw a substantial increase of +12 spots this year compared to 2022.

There was also a significant uptick in worldwide searches for movie and video game characters, illustrating the cultural impact other forms of media and entertainment have on the porn people are searching for. Parodies and cosplay are increasingly popular on Pornhub.

The top searches for video games included Fortnite, Overwatch, and Minecraft. As for movies and characters, Star Wars, Harley Quinn, and Game of Thrones topped the list.

Now, let’s look at the most viewed categories of 2023. The overlap in their top 5 view categories between men and women included Japanese and Ebony.


Different generations showed varying interests in different categories.


Gen Z and Y saw an interesting overlap in Cosplay, Interactive, and FFM. The only overlap in Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers was the Transgender category.

There’s also a breakdown of the most viewed categories by world region.


In the top-gaining categories, “Korean” saw the most significant boost from last year, with +82%. Next was Japanese +74%, Mature +69%, Cartoon +52%, and cosplay +46%.


The following top 20 countries make up 78.5% of all daily traffic to Pornhub. The United States took the top spot of countries by traffic by a landslide.


The average time spent on Pornhub increased by 15 whole seconds in 2023, bringing the average visit duration up to 10 minutes and 9 seconds. The United States had a slightly higher increase than average at +16 seconds. The time female visitors spent on the site increased by 9 seconds compared to men.


Pornhub also reported a steady increase in female visitors—+12% since 2015. In some countries, the scale even tipped this year, with allegedly more women viewing porn compared to men.


Viewers’ preferred times to watch porn, on average, were between noon and 1 pm. Additionally, above-average viewing activity occurred at 11 pm and midnight. The least favorite time was between 5 and 6 am.

It’s alarming but not surprising how common it is for people to consume porn in the middle of their workday or while at school.

Monday was the most popular day to visit Pornhub, and Saturday was the least popular. This stat makes sense, given that people tend to go out and be more social on weekends.

There were noticeable traffic decreases during events like the Super Bowl and regional holidays compared to the average day. The most significant dip in the US was -33.2% on Thanksgiving Day.

These metrics are another confirmation that the opposite of consuming porn (and the most common reasons people do it) is making meaningful connections and spending time with people they love.

How porn profits from “rapey” and racist stereotypes

Year after year, “Japanese” and Ebony” outrank just about everything else. 2023 is no different—except you can add “Korean” to that list as a top-gaining category.

The porn industry didn’t invent racist stereotypes, but it depicts and profits from them. It also promotes blatantly racist narratives.

The porn industry often fetishizes race, reducing people of color to sexual categories that often focus on damaging stereotypes.xHamster. (2018). xHamster trend report 2018. Retrieved from https://xhamster.com/blog/posts/745297Copy   According to researchers who performed a content analysis of more than 1,700 scenes from two of the world’s most popular porn sites—Pornhub and XVideos—videos featuring Black people disproportionately emphasize violence and aggression, perpetuate harmful racist stereotypes, and often depict Black people as “worse than objects.”Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2021). Worse than objects: The depiction of black women and men and their sexual relationship in pornography. Gender Issues, 38(1), 100-120. doi:10.1007/s12147-020-09255-2Copy 

Dr. Carolyn West, an expert on domestic violence and cultural sensitivity, has taught Human Sexuality courses for over 20 years. Discussing the porn industry’s history of perpetuating racism against the Black community, she explains, “It doesn’t take long to stumble upon any number of racist titles that promote offensive and unwarranted racial stereotypes.” She continues, “The porn industry appears to get a free pass to promote horrifically racist and abusive content in the name of sexual entertainment to anyone with internet access, even children.”West, C. M. (2021). Why does the porn industry get away with racist portrayals of Black people? Fight the New Drug. Retrieved from https://dev.fightthenewdrug.org/why-does-the-porn-industry-get-away-with-racist-portrayals-of-black-people/Copy 

Consider how the porn industry gets a free pass for far more than it ever should. If the average movie or TV show had even a fraction of the stereotypical insensitive content anyone with an internet signal is bombarded with on a mainstream porn site, you can bet those studios would be shut down and condemned for promoting offensive stereotypes and glorifying racism.

In what other industry would content like this be acceptable? And yet, there it is, proudly ranked first by Pornhub on the search list they share with the world in their annual PR stunt.

“Hentai” porn sexualizes and fetishizes underage children

“Hentai” has held the top spot in most searched-for terms for the last 3 years. You’ve probably heard of it before, but do you know what it is?

Cartoon porn, particularly hentai, is extremely hardcore and has become increasingly popular over the last decade. One of the reasons, and probably why viewers rationalize watching it, is they say it doesn’t involve real people.

But the reality is a much different story. And what it depicts, whether cartoon or not, is far from safe or healthy.

The word hentai is of Japanese origin, short for hentai seiyoku—a perverse sexual desire. In Japanese, the term describes any type of perverse or bizarre sexual desire or act.

Hentai porn depicts highly exaggerated sex acts featuring characters with impossibly large body parts and specializes in featuring disturbing fetishes like animal tentacles, children (particularly little girls), and incest. It is common for monsters, demons, animals, giant insects, and plants to rape cartoon women.

Women and girls in hentai look like a mixture of adults and children. In hentai, the categories of woman and child are blurred, and neither is off sexual limits.

A consistent theme in hentai is “sexy innocence.” Adult women, teens, and children are fused into one character. The large eyes, childlike expressions, and hairless bodies with tiny, petite frames are combined with massive breasts and exaggerated sex acts.

“Lolicon,” a sub-genre of hentai, is intended to look like young girls or even toddlers. The children are often portrayed as frightened or resisting when sexual advances are made toward them, but they are also often shown to be enjoying sexual abuse while it takes place.

Consider how much hentai focuses on underage children being taken advantage of. And it doesn’t stop there. Hentai sexualizes just about everything from incest to bestiality. Rape and underage kids are the top common themes. Characters from innocent children’s anime shows like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, and Cartoon Network are even used to create extreme porn.

No matter how improbable the animated scene, hentai porn is dangerous because of the behaviors and attitudes it normalizes. This is clearly unhealthy or acceptable— research and anecdotal evidence confirm it.

Get The Facts

The issue with how porn portrays LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships

Included in the top viewed categories are terms that relate to the LGBTQ+ community—like “Lesbian,” “Transgender,” and “Bisexual Male.”

Culturally, people often perceive the mainstream porn industry as aligned with the LGBTQ+ community. However, its portrayals of LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships prioritize profit over accurate representation, exploiting rather than authentically depicting the community.

Porn producers, including many who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community, are creating content they’re promoting as being to an LGBTQ+ audience—though the content itself often misrepresents and fetishizes LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships, promotes derogatory terms, and is generally intended for a cisgender, heterosexual audience.

Let’s consider “lesbian” porn. While “lesbian” has consistently ranked among the most searched-for terms for years, mainstream porn doesn’t primarily cater to the lesbian audience; instead, it targets cisgender, heterosexual men. Not to mention mainstream porn gets a lot of things wrong about LGBTQ+ sex in general.

Popular mainstream porn sites commonly feature storylines where a mailman, pizza delivery guy, or male plumber seduces a lesbian couple or lesbian women attempt to seduce their straight family members or roommates. This perpetuates harmful beliefs that don’t take female sexuality seriously, portray lesbian women as predatory, and suggest that “the right man” has the power to change someone’s sexuality.

There are also issues with the “Bisexual Male” category. Porn often sells the idea that bisexual individuals are not only hypersexual but serial cheaters and always interested in a sexual encounter whenever and with whoever. Porn misrepresents and dehumanizes bisexual individuals, overlooking their unique libidos, desires, and longing for connection—much like everyone else.

Regarding the “Transgender” category, it poses a challenging issue because the porn industry prominently features and normalizes trans people, but that normalization often comes at a price. Many of these videos are clearly focused on “punishing” and humiliating them with forced, painful sex acts, often using highly derogatory and offensive terms.

Essentially, we should treat everyone with respect and dignity, avoiding abuse, fetishization, or tokenization—regardless of any diversifying factors. It’s unacceptable for the mainstream porn industry to exploit LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships for “entertainment.”

What did we learn?

There was much to learn from Pornhub’s end-of-year stats—including the fact that porn related to incest, sexual violence, child exploitation, racist themes, and misrepresentation of LGBTQ+ individuals still take the top spots.

The site also ranked their top to most-searched porn performers, failing to acknowledge that some top-ranking performers from previous years have come forward—sharing the truth about their most popular scenes and their exploitation and abuse in the industry and that they wish the porn videos they were in could be deleted forever.

Porn is clearly more accessible, normalized, and mainstream than ever before. But with that said, information about the harmful effects of porn has also never been more accessible and mainstream.

Did you know we have a free documentary series on the harmful effects of porn, as well as a podcast, Consider Before Consuming, and a YouTube channel where you can get more educated on the harmful effects of pornography?

So while people are logging on to Pornhub daily and adding to their stats, we’ll continue sharing the facts and raising awareness that porn is anything but harmless entertainment.

The hundreds of thousands of messages we’ve received in the 14+ years we’ve been an organization show that this movement for real love has already significantly changed the conversation around this issue. So will you join us?

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