Playgirl Magazine‘s Editor-in-chief, Nicole Caldwell, has announced that their January/February 2009 issue will be the last of the printed issues. This issue will actually be released in November. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just another chapter? According to internetworldstats.com 73% of North American’s have access to the internet, followed by Oceania/Australia with 59.5%, and Europe with 48.1%. Will Playgirl be limiting themselves by going online only or opening their readership up to a more worldwide audience?
The last few years have seen a surge in new online magazines. You can find everything online these days it seems. There are online magazines for fashion, art, music, cars, motorcycles, and more. In addition there are also plenty of free places online to find porn. On top of the free porn there are now community based sites similar to Myspace where users can upload their own porn.
So this begs to ask a new question. Is online porn worth paying for? Or are there qualifications that must be met in order for it to be worthy of a pretty penny? My suspicion is that people are more likely to pay for video online than they are for online magazines with stationary images. However quality in both images and video do make a difference. By quality I am referring to the models/lighting/props/exposure and editing.
Online content is much cheaper and environmentally friendly to produce, but it’s also easier. Anything that can easily be done by the masses typically becomes hobby for many groups of people. Will Playgirl be putting themselves in a state of more competition with the lesser-known online only magazines? Or will their print-past and high quality keep them in the eye of the online viewers? If so, will these viewers continue to pay a higher price for the Playgirl content? I don’t have an answer for any of this, but I do know there will always be people looking for free quality content.
I do think though that Playgirl’s primary readers are probably gay men at this point, and that will affect Playgirl’s future. In 2003 the then editor of Playgirl, Michele Zipp, claimed that only 30% of Playgirl’s readers are gay men. Mark Graff of Trans Digital Media, which manages the branding of Playgirl, contradicted Zipp’s statement. Graff claimed that in 2003 50% of the Playgirl readership was gay men. Playgirl does have a myspace page. I just took a peek at their friends and from the first two pages 52% of the friends were men. I think chances are that Playgirl is going to continue to be popular amongst gay men, and with the advent of the online only version of Playgirl, women will become less interested. According to 2006 statistics, men make up 72% and women 28% of viewers to online porn. I have to admit that I think 28% seems high for females, and I would venture to guess that many of the females are probably women in the adult industries who are comparing content or looking for idea.
The next question is how many women do you know that read Playgirl? I know of none. I think I have one friend who has even ever looked at one. Playgirl seems to be more of a curiosity thing for many women. They might randomly pick one up in a bookstore or an airport. It’s similar to having a male stripper at a bachelorette party. It’s not something that women typically take serious; it’s just somewhat of a novelty amusement. However, I know plenty of gay men that take a peek on a regular basis. Playgirl is rather tame though in comparison to everything else that is available on the internet for free. Sure, the quality may be good, but the content isn’t very hot sexually. It has too much of a romantic appeal to it for most people. It’s truly Playboy for women, but it’s not arousing to most people. There isn’t even the shock value to Playgirl that Playboy currently has. Women aren’t as into it, and most gay men want something that shows a little more. If a gay male wants to see another hot guy, chances are more likely that he’s going to go straight to gay online porn, rather than the romanticized stagnant images of Playgirl.
I think in the end Playgirl is going to be doing one of two things. Either they will kick themselves in the butt and go back to printing, which I really doubt. Or eventually they will drop the online version of their magazine and concentrate on Playgirl TV and streaming video, losing more of their female readers, where their gay readers will be happier with the level of content and action provided.
Maybe a change of name is in order?