Not even pornography can save print media from the Internet.
Playboy said on Tuesday it would stop showing nudity starting with the March 2016 issue, marking the first time its “Playmates” won’t be naked since Hugh Hefner introduced the magazine in 1953.
The move is a stunning reversal for a publication that became famous for splashing undressed models and celebrities -- from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna -- across its centerfolds and other pages. Print magazines, even ones as titillating as Playboy, are struggling for survival as readers flock to the Web, causing advertising and circulation revenue to shrink. And of course, nudity is easily available online.
“Times change,” Playboy Enterprises Inc., which was taken private in a 2001 buyout led by Hefner, said in a statement.
Playboy’s announcement reflects one of the biggest recent changes in the media industry. All publications now depend on social-media platforms to distribute their content as fewer people visit website homepages, especially on smartphones.
‘Safe for work’
Many magazines and newspapers have teamed up with Facebook Inc., for example, to host their articles directly on the social network instead of their own websites to reach larger audiences and make Web pages load faster. The rise of social media presented a unique challenge for Playboy and its racy content. Facebook and Instagram both ban nudity. Twitter makes exceptions for artistic nudity, though last year banned porn videos from Vine, its short-video service.
Last year, Playboy.com cleaned up its website to make it “safe for work,” and has since seen its monthly unique Web visitors rise fivefold. The median age of those visitors dropped to 30 years-old from 47 as a result -- “an attractive demographic for advertisers,” the company said.
Playboy’s print edition, meantime, will undergo a dramatic redesign, with larger pages printed on heavier paper “to give the magazine a more collectible feel,” the company said in a statement. Still, one thing will not change.
“Playboy will continue to publish sexy, seductive pictorials of the world’s most beautiful women, including its iconic Playmates, all shot by some of today’s most renowned photographers,” the magazine said.
It will just be leaving some things to the imagination.