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AP Photo/John Minchillo
Some things are better than porn.
BETTER THAN SEX

Here’s what the world decided was more worth watching than porn in 2018

By Corinne Purtill

There were more than 30.3 billion searches in 2018 on Pornhub, the world’s largest porn search engine. Last year, the site transmitted an amount of data that surpassed the equivalent of the entire contents of the New York Public Library’s 50 million books; this year, more than 1 million hours of new content were uploaded to the site. People watch a lot of online porn. A lot.

But some things are even more interesting than pornography, at least for a little while. As Quartz’s Aisha Hassan has explained, Pornhub keeps track of detailed user-data patterns, much of which it makes public. It has identified a few reliable patterns of viewer behavior worldwide: Sunday tend to be the site’s most popular day; Friday traffic is the lowest. On all days, viewership peaks between 10pm and 1am local time (in other words, traffic from NY peaks 10pm-1am eastern and SF traffic peaks 10pm-1am pacific).

Pornhub also notes when users are logging off. Drops in traffic to the site often correlate with external events like video game releases or nuclear missile scares. It also falls during the broadcasts or livestreams of popular shows.

One of 2018’s biggest single-day drops in traffic was during the Super Bowl, when US visits were 28% lower than usual levels on Feb. 4 levels (and even more in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, the home states of the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots).

Global viewership were 10% lower than usual for May 19 thanks to the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and 11% lower than a typical July 15 during the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia. Traffic was 4.4% lower than usual globally (and 11.3% on Apple devices) on Sept. 12 when Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone XS.

In the UK, traffic fell 4% for the Britain’s Got Talent Finale, and 3% for both the Great British Bake Off finale and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, compared to the same days in previous years.

US users turned off Pornhub for the midterm elections and Academy Awards (6% each), and the Emmy Awards and Stormy Daniels’s “60 Minutes” interview (5% each). More people logged off to watch the Golden Globes (4%) than the NBA finals (3% nationwide, but 13% in San Francisco Bay area, home to the winning Golden State Warriors).

And Pornhub’s users seem to prefer the sweet sounds of Nashville to the roar of a stadium crowd: Traffic dropped more during the Country Music Awards (3%) than during baseball’s World Series (1%).