Playboy is looking to up its stakes in the content game. With the recruitment of former Lions Gate Entertainment executive VP Julie Uhrman to be its first president of media, Playboy is signaling that there’s still more to the company than baseball caps and hoodies bearing the bunny logo.
Uhrman was also general manager of Lions Gate’s streaming television business, as well as being the founder and CEO of Android-based game console company OUYA. Her remit at Playboy, according to the Wall Street Journal, is to help the company raise its profile in streaming television, videogames and virtual- and augmented-reality platforms.
That goal fits in with the prominent role Playboy’s media division still has in the company’s fortunes. While its lifestyle business is growing, the Journal reports that the media division, which includes the company’s magazine, subscription websites and adult pay-per-view channel, still accounts for about half of its revenues.
In a move toward consolidating Playboy’s control of its branded content, it has taken back the management of its websites and pay-per-view channels, which had been previously outsourced to Manwin (now knows as Mindgeek), an operator of adult websites.
One part of the division that is not bringing in money is the print version of Playboy. Following its failed experiment of removing nude photos, the magazine was scaled back from 10 issues per year to six issues in 2017. Now, the company says it is cutting Playboy back to a quarterly, with each issue doubling in size and including three playmates.
Another piece of Playboy’s past is also figuring in its future plans. On Sept. 15, a new Playboy Club is opening in New York City, more than 30 years after the original Playboy Club there closed its doors. With more than 750,000 members in its heyday, the clubs lost business through the 1970s and by 1986 all of the company-owned clubs shut down, though franchised locations still exist.