Which State Consumes The Most Online Porn?

Utah, that’s which state! Or so says Harvard researcher Ben Edelman, who “analyzed subscriber data from an unnamed ‘top 10 seller of online adult entertainment.'” When comparing broadband subscribers, Utah comes in first with an average of 5.47 per 1000. In second place is Alaska with just over 5.03 per 1000, and coming in third is Mississippi.

Before you start giggling about dirty Mormons, however, Edelman notes that “in regions where more people report regularly attending religious services, overall subscription rates are not statistically significantly different from subscriptions elsewhere.” (However, churchgoers are less likely to begin their subscriptions on Sunday, which implies that they “shift their consumption of adult entertainment to other days of the week.”)

Instead, it looks the higher consumption is actually connected to states “that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality.”

Now that we’ve veered into political territory, here’s a bit of interesting red state/blue state trivia to fuel future accusations in the comments:

Furthermore, I found no significant relationship between subscriptions to this adult entertainment service and presidential voting in 2004, based on poll data by congressional district.

However, using individual-level data from a Hitwise sample of ten million anonymized U.S. Internet users, Tancer (2008), finds that adult escort sites are more popular in “blue” states that voted for Gore in 2004 [we assume he meant Kerry? -ed.], while visitors from the “red” states that voted for Bush in 2004 are more likely to visit wife-swapping sites, adult webcams, and sites about voyeurism.

The Salt Lake Tribune has Edelman speculate on why Utah is so porn-happy:

Another possibility for Utah’s top porn billing may be the scarcity of adult entertainment outside the home.

“If it is distinctively difficult to get this material in retail locations in Utah, Utah residents who seek such material may have to get it online,” said Edelman, in an e-mail. “On net, then, Utah residents would be buying more online adult entertainment — but perhaps not more total adult entertainment. That said, I analyzed only online adult entertainment, so I’m not in a position to assess the magnitude of this effect.”

Here’s a link to the report (PDF), so those of you who love to argue over methodology can examine it in more detail.

“Utah: Online Porn Capital of America?” [PC World]