Coronavirus Leads Playboy To End Print Edition After Spring Issue

The coronavirus has driven the bowtie-wearing bunny online. 

Playboy said Wednesday it will stop publishing its iconic magazine’s print edition due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Playboy Says 'Innovative' Print Products Will Return Next Year 

Launched in 1953, the magazine will only be available in digital format after the spring 2020 edition hits the newsstands. The magazine previously cut the number of print issues in 2019 from six to four per year. 

Playboy said the disruption caused by the pandemic to content production and the supply chain has become “clearer and clearer,” forcing a conversation on how to transform the print offering in the U.S. to “better suit what consumers want today,” CEO Ben Kohn said in a Medium post. 

The spring edition will be the last print product of 2020 for Playboy, Kohn said. In 2021, Playboy will "bring back fresh and innovative printed offerings" in new forms such as special editions, partnerships, collections and more, he said. 

"Print is how we began and print will always be a part of who we are."

In its 63-year history, Playboy has consistently been committed to free expression, breaking taboos, "leaning into discomfort," helping readers express and understand their sexuality and "advocating for the pursuit of pleasure for all," he said. 

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Playboy's Journey Since Hefner's Death

Playboy is one of the world's most recognizable brands, the CEO said, with its "cheeky, bowtie-wearing rabbit head" familiar to 97% of consumers globally. 

The brand claims to drive over $3 billion in annual spends globally, to have attracted over 4 million new Instagram followers and to have experienced a a 50% jump in social engagement in the last six months. The company’s digital video subscriptions rose 30% year-on-year.

The magazine has evolved since its charismatic founder and editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner died in 2017. Efforts have been made to build a "world of Playboy" around the brand.

Traditional publishing has been under pressure for two decades. In January, the billionaire investor Warren Buffet sold his newspapers to Lee Enterprises, Incorporated LEE

The U.S. now has 6,519 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, while the worldwide number has crossed 204,277.

Photo by Downtowngal via Wikimedia

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