Penthouse Folds Print Magazine After 50 Years
End date for print edition still undetermined as brand plans to focus on digital content.
Update: In the wake of this report and several others, Penthouse managing director Kelly Holland confirms that the print edition will, in fact, live on.
The proliferation of internet pornography is forcing yet another legacy adult magazine to rethink its business model.
Penthouse will cease production of its print magazine, henceforth becoming a digital-only operation, publisher General Media Communications announced.
Future issues will be available electronically on PenthouseMagazine.com, and the magazine's operations will be transferred from New York to General Media's Los Angeles office.
"This move will keep Penthouse competitive in the future and will seamlessly combine our unmatched pictorial features and editorial content with our video and broadcast offerings," said Jonathan Buckheit, CEO of FriendFinder Networks, parent company of General Media, in a statement.
No other details on the transition were given, although an exact end date for the print publication has yet to be determined, according to FriendFinder Networks CFO, Ezra Shashoua.
The announcement to shutter the 50-year-old print magazine, long known as the raunchier rival to Playboy, comes just months after Playboy itself announced the decision to phase out nudity from its pages as part of a redesign set to debut in March.
"That battle has been fought and won,” said Playboy Enterprises CEO, Scott Flanders, at the time. "You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture."
It comes as no surprise that Penthouse is also feeling the heat, as hardcore pornography is increasingly accessed through an internet connection and not in the pages of magazines.
On top of compounding market forces, the financial woes of FriendFinder Networks cannot be ignored.
After unsuccessfully attempting to buy Playboy Enterprises, Inc. in 2010, the company, operators of sites such as AdultFriendFinder.com and Cams.com, declared bankruptcy in 2013, its stock eventually being delisted from Nasdaq. General Media had itself filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy ten years earlier, in 2003, leading to the resignation of longtime chairman Bob Guccione.
"As FriendFinder Networks is one of the innovators of online social media, it is only appropriate that our valuable Penthouse flagship magazine now join our other web offerings, available through FFN’s established worldwide network," added Buckheit.
Now the lone, major-brand holdout, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt acknowledged to Bloomberg in 2014 that his magazine could easily be next on the chopping block.
"I don't think Hustler is going to be around much longer," he said at the time. "As long as it makes money, I'll continue to publish, but we can see the handwriting on the wall."