The spring issue of renowned men’s magazine Playboy will likely be the last print edition to be published after the magazine has been appearing for 66 years at newsagents. The Playboy group announced the move after deciding to rely on the online edition only.
Due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to the magazine’s production, “we were forced to accelerate a conversation we've been having internally,” said Ben Kohn, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, in a letter published on the group's website on Wednesday.
“We have decided that the spring 2020 issue, which will be released this week, will be the last of the year in the USA,” added Kohn. Terminating the magazine’s print edition, which went from bi-monthly to quarterly in 2019, had been frequently talked about in recent years.
The death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in September 2017 had further strengthened the hold that investment company Rizvi Traverse has on the magazine after it helped Hefner regain control in 2011.
Led by Kohn, an associate of Rizvi Traverse, Playboy significantly boosted its online presence, a strategy which is already bearing fruit, according to Kohn.
In the letter, Kohn indicated that Playboy's on-demand streaming video subscriptions grew by 30% in 2019.
“The content we produce is consumed by millions of people on our websites, but in its printed version it only reaches a fraction of our fans,” said Kohn.
Playboy has not entirely given up on print, and already plans to publish a series of special issues and other printed products in 2021.
Playboy first appeared at newsagents in December 1953, and during its seven decades’ existence it has been regularly criticised for objectifying women. It was the first mass-circulation magazine to show naked breasts, at a time when the USA was still a puritanical society. It broke taboos from its first issue, which featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover.
Playboy, recognised for its voluptuous cover-girls and its black bunny logo, reached its peak circulation in 1972, selling seven million copies per issue.
In January 2016, another renowned erotic magazine, Penthouse, announced it was terminating its print editions to shift to online only.