Playboy launches ‘Playboy Live’ as it adapts to life after print
After the onset of the coronavirus forced Playboy to suspend publication of its storied print magazine last month, the media company this week rolled out a new digital format, “Playboy Live.”
The new product features a series of real-time videos starring the Playboy’s troupe of Playmates and adult stars, delivered via Instagram Stories and IGTV. The first batch of live videos show the stars giving tutorials on activities to do at home where, of course, most people are cooped up under widespread lockdown measures. The 66-year-old brand has 8.4 million Instagram followers.
Since pulling the plug on print, Playboy has been forced to reevaluate what types of content it can provide amid the disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19.
“Like everyone else right now, we are adapting quickly to unprecedented and uncertain times—so we asked ourselves how can we support our community right now?” said Playboy Executive Editor Liz Suman in a statement. “We decided to focus on what we’ve always done best: provide playful, fun, arousing and entertaining experiences.”
Adult star Misty Stone teaches physical therapy in one segment, while adult star Joanna Angel guides viewers through a workout in another. In further videos: Playmate Anita Pathammavong gives an oracle reading, Playmate Jordy Murray reveals her personal workout routine, adult star Angela White reviews past Playboy editorials, Playmate Chasity Samone offers makeup and skincare tips, adult star Abigail Mac throws a pool party and Playmate Geena Rocero gives a cooking class.
The live videos, which began on Tuesday and run through Saturday, have brought in hundreds of thousands of viewers, says Suman. But they're just the beginning. Two new series based on existing franchises are also in development.
“We will undoubtedly be leaning into the Live format in a much bigger way as we continue to innovate on how we engage with our fans most meaningfully,” she says.
Although the content wasn’t initially planned, Suman says the direction aligns with what the company has been aiming to pivot to for the past year—more immersive ways to engage with its audience. Playboy has previously hosted two live experiences called “The Playhouse,” with panels on subjects like cannabis advocacy and the future of masculinity, held live interview sessions online and has brought its Playboy Advisor column to a digital series.
But the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent media companies through a whirlwind, has also brought about a digitally focused mindset quicker than expected. Playboy has had to temporality switch to a digital-only format for its iconic magazine.
Playboy Enterprises CEO Ben Kohn announced the company would halt its print publications due to the coronavirus in a letter posted to Medium on March 18. The Spring 2020 issue, he says, is the last printed U.S. publication for the year. It’s a decision that had already been discussed internally.
“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,” Kohn wrote.
In the letter, Kohn, noted that the Playboy brand brings in over $3 billion in consumer spend worldwide and explained the brand’s growth away from print. “This past year, our focus has been on meeting audiences where they are,” he wrote. Kohn says that in the past six months the brand has gained more than 4 million new Instagram followers and has seen over 50 percent growth on social media. It has also grown digital video subscriptions by 30 percent year over year, according to his post.