Playboy went ad-free with its winter issue — now on newsstands — and hiked its cover price to a hefty $24.99 per issue hoping that the change to an oversized format can boost revenue, even if circulation takes a hit.
A quick check of its 2018 circulation recently emerged in the form of USPS data that shows that circulation has continued to dip over the past 12 months.
It suggests that Cooper Hefner’s vision for the magazine, which returned nude photos to the mix in the spring of 2017, did nothing to help its sales. One source said it was trying too hard to go younger — which never clicked with millennials and alienated its loyal older readers.
Its average total paid circulation was 206,483 for the six issues in 2018, down by more than a third from a year earlier. It suggests Hefner’s move from chief creative officer to chief of global partnerships more than a year ago was a boot upstairs after his vision foundered.
He said last week he is leaving in May to launch HefPost, an online lifestyle title that will include erotic photos. Hefner, 27, is the youngest child of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who passed in 2017 at the age of 91.
“The magazine became quarterly in December and is free of ads,” said a spokesman. “We are no longer beholden to advertisements, and that means we have more editorial freedom to do what we want. We are dedicated to continuing the magazine as a print product.”