Publishers of the print edition of Playboy magazine have suspended the title amid coronavirus fears with most pundits believing the latest mag – the US spring edition out today – will be its last ever on newsstands.
The fabled men’s title has been in print since Hugh Hefner first launched it way back in December 1953.
Like everything else in print, the title has been mauled by all things digital and became a quarterly early last year, selling at $US25 per pop.
In recent times the publishers had to tried to reinvent the title for a more Millennial audience, including introducing a “no nude” editorial policy. Something that was quickly scrapped as sales nosedived.
It’s not exactly clear how many it was selling – some say “several hundred thousand” and issue – as the magazine was no longer tracked by the US’ official auditor the Alliance for Audited Media.
There have been media reports that each edition was losing the publisher $US1 million per issue and was only being kept afloat from overseas licences, primarily from China.
Some 50 countries currently licence the brand, however, it’s unclear how the US’ move will impact those territories.
According to CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Ben Kohn, management had been toying with cutting the print edition for some time and it had now been exacerbated by the arrival of the coronavirus.
In a blog post, Kohn said: “As the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic to content production and the supply chain became clearer and clearer, we were forced to accelerate a conversation we’ve been having internally: the question of how to transform our US print product to better suit what consumers want today … [and] engage in a cultural conversation each and every day, rather than just every three months.
“We will move to a digital-first publishing schedule for all of our content including the Playboy Interview, 20Q, the Playboy Advisor and of course our Playmate pictorials,” he continued.
“It’s no surprise that media consumption habits have been changing for some time … [and] our content in its printed form reaches the hands of only a fraction of our fans,” he said. Moving forward from 2021, there will still be print offerings “in a variety of new forms”, such as “special editions, partnerships with the most provocative creators, timely collections and much more.
“Print is how we began and print will always be a part of who we are,” Kohn wrote.
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