By David South
The Playboy Channel, due to launch in the UK on November 1, is trying to position itself as being a cut above the existing sex channels with which it will compete for subscribers.
The channel, which is running an advertising campaign costing more than £1.5 million, believes that its big budgets and slick production values will attract viewers who have hitherto been uninterested in so-called “adult” entertainment. It hopes to win an audience among women as well as men.
Managing director Rita Lewis dismisses the other sex channels as being aimed at people who are “a bit sad and on their own”. The channels promote “deviant” behaviour.
Playboy hopes to attract happy, heterosexual couples who will treat the channel as an aid to foreplay: “We hope Playboy will lead to couples’ making love,” said Lewis, who believes that women, as well as men “are happy to consume erotic imagery like pin-ups.”
In the USA, according to Lewis, 70 per cent of the audience for the channel comprises couples.
She said that the UK Playboy will run programmes that have more in common with programmes like Channel Four’s The Good Sex Guide. “These days, a whole bunch of people are sampling erotic programming like The Good Sex Guide. It is very sexy programming with mass-market appeal.”
Playboy’s movies would have a high standard of production, she said, very different from what she claims to be the cheap programming made for the other channels, often home videos and often shot with hand-held cameras.
Playboy’s programming will comprise sex films, interviews with “centrefold” models, documentaries on the sex industry and general-entertainment programming such as quiz shows.
The rival channels claim that Playboy will not be a big threat to them. The Adult Channel’s Wren says that all the new channels “hype the market, which helps us.” In any case, adult entertainment consumers have already been weaned on a harder mix of programming and do not want something that offers little more than what Channel Four shows.
The UK Playboy Channel, which is owned by UK programmer Flextech (51 per cent), British Sky Broadcasting (30 per cent) and Playboy Enterprises (19 per cent), will transmit from between midnight and 4am on the Bravo transponder on Astra 1c.
Read more on the 1990s sex economy here: From Special Report: Sexual Dealing: Today’s Sex Toys Are Credit Cards & Cash: A Report On The Sex-For-Money Revolution
Update: It is over 20 years since this Special Report was published. The Internet now plays a significant role in the growth of sex content and the sex industry and vice versa. Here is an interesting overview of the situation in 2020. The Internet is for Porn – It always was, it always will be.
“One of the biggest and most interesting things happening in the consumer web right now is running almost completely under the radar. It has virtually zero Silicon Valley involvement. There are no boastful VCs getting rich. It is utterly absent from tech’s plethora of twitters, fora and media (at least, as they say, “on main”). Indeed, the true extent of its incredible success has gone almost completely unnoticed, even by its many, many, many customers.
I’m talking, of course, about OnlyFans.”
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.
© David South Consulting 2021