Let's address the elephant in the room: 97% of the internet is adult content, and I think we all know it. Over the past few years, one of the biggest names in that part of the internet has been OnlyFans (we won't link to it here for obvious reasons). While the site had originally intended itself as a place for creators to connect with their fans, it took an unexpected turn. This week, the company has decided that it will turn away from that part of its business and ban adult content entirely.
The business model has been an interesting combination between the gig economy and adult content. But, while it might be the part of the business that made the site famous, many of the company's business partners aren't happy with the positioning. In particular, OnlyFans is having trouble with its banking partners, including the ones which provide payouts to creators. At the behest of those partners, this big change is coming. In addition, with a focus on adult content, whether planned or unplanned, means that there is going to be trouble with Apple if they want a mobile app. Apple's policies are unpredictable, though, so anything is possible.
The company is not giving creators a lot of time to prepare for the policy changes. The new policies will go into effect on October 1, 2021, at which time explicit content will be no more. This gives content creators who produce explicit content a little over a month to find a new platform to which to move. Creators will have the ability to post nudity, however, so long as it conforms to the site's acceptable content policy. We do not currently know whether or not the acceptable content definition will also change on October 1st.
After the transition, OnlyFans intends to position itself more as a Patreon competitor rather than the destination for adult content. As part of that revised business model, the company has also announced OFTV, a destination for watching user-generated video content in a variety of genres, including cooking, comedy, and fitness. Obviously, these are not the genres currently associated with the brand.
While OnlyFans claims that the move is intended to provide sustainability going forward, there is one major issue that the company is going to have to overcome: the brand image. The fact that it was a surprise to everyone when the company announced a platform for fitness videos shows exactly what the site's brand is right now. To be able to change the perception of the brand, the company has an uphill battle ahead.
This is not the first time we have seen a platform whose name is highly associated with adult content make an abrupt change. Two years ago, Tumblr did the same thing, banning explicit content. Tumblr's move had nothing to do with financial partners and more to do with threats from Apple. While Tumblr had a reputation, it wasn't its only brand image. Even so, the brand struggled enough that it was sold off.
Obviously, only time will tell whether OnlyFans is able to rehabilitate its brand image, but it doesn't seem like it stands much of a chance. It would be like if Apple suddenly started selling flooring and stopped selling phones and tablets entirely.