If you are snickering here, wait...Playboy (NYSE: PLA) CEO Christie Hefner is "blogging" for Portfolio.com about the future of newspapers and gives her deep-thought opinion on what they should be focusing on. She talks about a code worth cracking: "rather than seemingly focusing on cost-cutting their way out of their problems, perhaps newspaper owners should be focused on first, how to make their online content and the online experience on their sites as compelling as possible, including (buckle your seat belts here!) marketing their sites; second, how to consider offering some of that content or some of those experiences in a disaggregated (i.e., not needing a subscription) manner with simple a la carte pricingthe iTunes model..." Which is all fine of course, and everyone's trying. but then this: "So can newspapers learn from magazines? From what Cond Nast's done online? From Playboy's ability to grow its combined print and online audience and advertising last year?" What growth is she talking about? Playboy's digital revenues have been flat to shrinking over the last few quarters, and the growth even before has been slower than industry average.
But to be fair, Playboy was among the earliest movers in the online and mobile space and went international with its mobile business earlier than anyone. Even on the interactive TV and VOD site, it was early. It certainly has the right digital execs. But it hasn't been able to capitalize from there on. Yes, there have been some transitional issues with its e-commerce business, and opening up of its subscription site, but as I have said before, the company needs to do something more drastic, like what they call a "transformative acquisition" in industry lingo. Developing a social network is not the complete answer
By Rafat Ali