Is there still room in today’s world for Playboy? The popular magazine’s current owner, PLBY Group, is reviving the original magazine in a digital-only format, with one catch: this new Playboy is a virtual display window for an OnlyFans-style platform called, of course, Playboy.
The company announced on Monday that it was bringing back its iconic magazine with a mix of free and paid content. According Varietynew Playboy will offer selected content for free, but will require users to pay individual creators for behind-the-scenes content and full photoshoots. Playboy first issue will be released at the end of this year, but you can already see some of his first photos on the Playboy website, which feature model Amanda Cerny.
The business model of the Playboy platform is very similar to that used by OnlyFans, although there are a few differences, mainly that Playboy allows nude photos, but not hardcore porn.
“Many of our creators don’t have nudity on their pages,” a Playboy spokesperson said. Variety. “While we allow nudity, we do not allow explicit content/pornography… We are not positioning this as an ‘adult’ platform – it’s for everyone, including mainstream creators sharing the same behind the scenes of their lives.”
Unlike OnlyFans, Playboy will not directly allow amateur models on its platform. In order to post on the site, models must submit an application and be accepted by the company.
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The History of Playboy Magazine
To understand exactly why Playboy (the company) decided to use its iconic magazine to promote its new creator platform, it’s important to understand the recent history of the magazine. In 2011, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner sold Playboy Enterprises to a company called Rizvi Traverse. Since then, the magazine has fought a battle on three fronts: breaking away from its shady origins and history of discrimination against women; find a market on the Internet where it is easy to find completely free nude photos; and strike a balance between allowing full nudity on the pages of its magazine and not ruining its product licensing business in markets that don’t allow such content.
In 2015, for example, Playboy removed nudes from the covers of its magazines. The company’s CEO at the time, Scott Flanders, justified the decision in statements to The New York Times“You are now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just outdated at this point,” Flanders told the outlet.
At this moment Quartz saw Playboy’s decision differently, pointing out that the company was trying to be “cleaner” and more politically correct in its print edition to help its business in China and India. Considering Playboy was generating 40% of its revenue from China at that time, that made sense.
Hefner died in 2017, and Playboy Enterprises decided to shut down the print version of the magazine in 2020. There were rumors of the print magazine being pulled from 2018, in part due to the general crisis facing the magazines printed. Playboy began publishing in 1953 and reached its peak circulation in 1975, when it printed 5.6 million copies of one issue in the United States. In 2018, its draw had fallen to less than 500,000 copies by number.
In March 2020, Playboy Enterprises CEO Ben Kohn announced that the magazine’s spring issue would be the last in print. The official reason Kohn cited for the move was distribution issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s clear the print version of the magazine had been heading to the chopping block for some time.
A year later, Kohn announced that Rizvi Traverse would merge with Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp to form PLBY Group, a company with three main areas of business: licensing content to third parties, selling products directly to consumers and digital content. At that time, Playboy was already selling subscriptions for nude content on its website. In May 2022, hiring ex-Twitch executive Loren Piretra to launch Centerfold by Playboy, a subscription platform similar to OnlyFans with its own app.
In September, PLBY Group dropped the “Centerfold” name and merged its creator platform with the original brand, deciding to call it simply “Playboy”.
Is there still room in today’s world for Playboy?
The question has nothing to do with nude photos – at this point in the internet we should already be used to those – but rather with its business model.
Playboy defines its platform as the “elevated, safe and exclusive” version of OnlyFans. In practice, what Playboy offers is a mix of Instagram, TikTok and OnlyFans, but with content produced by professionals and sold via subscription, without advertising. The problem is that Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are already full of very talented artists whose content you can access without paying anything, or by paying the artists directly through monetization platforms like Patreon, Ko-Fi or the own monetization features from Twitter.