Since the early days of live webcasts by Ringley and Amanda, the phenomenon of camming has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry which has an average of at least 12,500 cam models online at any given time and more than 240,000 viewers at any given time.
Camming websites typically fall into two main categories, dependent upon whether their video chat rooms are free or private.
Princeton University sociologist and author of The Purchase of Intimacy, Viviana Zelizer, states of camming: "They’re defining a new kind of intimacy.
It’s not traditional sex work, not a relationship, but something in between." Within Cam Girlz, a documentary film about the industry, the male fans often say that they come to camming sites as a way to fulfill emotional needs.
In private chat rooms, viewers pay by the minute for a private show.
However, in free chat rooms payment is voluntary and is in the form of tips, thus providing the model with an income at a minimal cost for the multiple viewers of her chat room's video stream.
But since camming only requires a video camera, broadband service, and computer, there has now been a power reversal and it is the female webcam performers who propel the industry while at home.
Webcam performers are often highly entrepreneurial, and use mainstream social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, and Tumblr to build and maintain relationships with their customers.
Camming revenue has been severely cutting into the profits of the pornographic movie business, which has also been eroded for a number of years due to piracy and the distribution of free sexual content upon the Internet.
Additionally, the pornographic film industry used to be male-dominated except for the performers.
Some fans communicate multiple times a day with models through social media.
Unlike traditional pornography, the interactive nature of the camming medium titillates with the promise of virtual friendship.