Playboy has announced plans to venture into the online social networking space with Playboy U, a free networking site specifically for college students.
The site, launched late last month, is open to college students 18 years of age and older who have a valid ".edu" e-mail address. The site will feature members’ writing, photography and videos, and encourages user-generated dialogue about relationships, student life and pop culture. The site will not feature nude photography.
“We like to think of the site as a ‘campus advisor’ and expert on how to make the most of the college experience,” Playboy U director Chip Ross tells Folio:. What makes Playboy U different from other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is the community and content, according to Ross. "Playboy U’s mix of journalism, entertainment and ‘cross-campus’ dialogue is distinct within social networking,” he says.
The Playboy U staff will work with the magazine to bring relevant features to life, Ross says. The site will also feature videos from Playboy parties and interviews with magazine founder Hugh Hefner.
Playboy the magazine has been slumping financially in recent years, after posting a nearly $50 million loss in 2000. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ recent FAS-FAX report, Playboy declared a total paid and verified circulation of 2,880,337 in the first half of the year, down five percent from 3,031,176 over the same period in 2006.
Is the launch of Playboy U another attempt to bolster the magazine’s otherwise stagnant revenues? “Our goal is to continue to develop a relevant and exciting community for college students,” Ross says. “Playboy U has a unique position in the world of social networking and we’re confident that the site will continue to grow exponentially.”