Big cuts are in store at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, which is slashing its rate base a whopping 38 percent as the iconic men’s magazine battles advertising and circulation declines, Mediaweek has learned.
Starting with the January 2010 issue, Playboy’s rate base will drop to 1.5 million from 2.6 million, a rep there said.
Playboy also will combine its January and February issues after doing the same with its July and August issues this past summer. No decision has been made about repeating the July/August double issue this year, the rep said.
The changes aren’t unexpected. Playboy Enterprises’ recently named CEO Scott Flanders has pledged big changes at the flagship magazine, which has been facing lower ad and circulation revenue. The company has hinted at the possibility of more rate base cuts along with other big changes to the print edition, including an outright sale.
And, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Like other mass-circ magazines from Reader’s Digest to TV Guide, Playboy has whittled its rate base over the years. In 1971, it stood at 6 million. Playboy missed its 2.6 million-rate base by 146,734 copies, or 5.6 percent, for the first half of 2009, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Its ad pages declined 33 percent to 275 this year through the November issue, per the Mediaweek Monitor.
With the rate base cut, Playboy will lose its standing as the biggest circulation men’s lifestyle magazine by circulation. Now, the next biggest behind Playboy is Alpha Media’s Maxim, with a rate base of 2.5 million; and Rodale’s Men’s Health, 1.8 million.