Playboy magazine, the once pace-setting journal that chronicled the sexual revolution through a mix of high-gloss nude photographs and top-rate fiction and journalism, will end its print run in the U.S. after nearly seven decades on the newsstand, Playboy Enterprises Inc. said Wednesday.
The magazine, which had struggled with profitability for years and had steadily reduced its print frequency since the death of its founder, Hugh Hefner, in 2017, ultimately fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.
“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,” Ben Kohn, the chief executive of Playboy Enterprises wrote in a post on Medium.
“With all of this in mind, we have decided that our Spring 2020 Issue, which arrives on U.S. newsstands and as a digital download this week, will be our final printed publication for the year in the U.S.”
Mr. Kohn said going forward, the magazine would continue publishing regularly online, with an occasional special edition in print. The magazine will continue to be published in some markets overseas through licensing agreements.
“Over the past 66 years, we’ve become far more than a magazine and sometimes you have to let go of the past to make room for the future,” he said
After Mr. Hefner’s death at age 91, the company began to re-evaluate the future of the money-losing U.S. magazine, which was scaled back to six issues a year from 10 in 2017, after a brief period in which it stopped printing nude pictures. Previously, the magazine had lost as much as $7 million annually as U.S. circulation tumbled to a few hundred thousand an issue from 5.6 million at the peak in 1975.
In recent years, Playboy Enterprises has primarily become a licensing business, making money by placing the Playboy name and its distinctive bunny-ear logo on clothing lines, casinos, fragrances, wallets and more.
In 2018, Mr. Kohn said the company was considering ending its run in print entirely, but it later decided to cut back to quarterly publication, featuring three nude playmates in each issue. That same year, the company’s majority owner, private-equity firm Rizvi Traverse, bought out Mr. Hefner’s family’s roughly 35% stake for $35 million. Rizvi Traverse took control of Playboy in 2011, when it helped Mr. Hefner take the company private.
Last April, Mr. Hefner’s son Cooper stepped down as chief content officer, severing the last ties between the publication and the Hefner family.