Hefner Pushes Playboy SVOD Service

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New York -- Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner wants cable operators to step up to the marketing plate with her company’s Playboy TV subscription-video-on-demand product.

Hefner -- speaking at the Banc of America Media, Telecommunications and Entertainment conference here Wednesday -- said that as cable operators make the transition from pay-per-view fare to SVOD, Playboy TV would be a natural fit with other premium SVOD offerings from HBO and Showtime.

“[Operators] need to let consumers know it’s there,” Hefner said after her presentation at the conference. She gave DirecTV -- which has a channel on its service that allows customers to order Playboy TV’s SVOD service through their remote controls -- as an example.

But Hefner would like cable operators to go even further, offering Playboy TV as part of a package of other premium channels.

“We want to be in packages,” Hefner said, adding that operators already market discount packages of two or more premium channels. “We should be one of those options. So it should be Playboy and Showtime and HBO and whatever.”

She also suggested adding Playboy TV to Web-based marketing initiatives by operators.

Cable operators traditionally have offered virtually no marketing help for adult channels, despite the sector being one of the largest profit centers for cable systems. It is estimated that operators receive 80%-90% of the retail revenue from adult PPV.

Whether operators will step up to the plate and increase marketing for Playboy TV remains to be seen. Hefner said she has been in contact with the two largest cable operators in the country -- Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- but she declined to give details on those discussions.

But according to Hefner, operators are not recoiling in horror with the notion of stepping up marketing for Playboy TV.

“We don’t get push-back. It’s just a question of when you do it,” Hefner said.

Time Warner had no official comment on Hefner’s remarks. Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said Comcast has no plans to begin marketing Playboy TV.

Although cable operators could be hesitant to aggressively market an adult channel in light of the outrage expressed by federal legislators and public-interest groups over what they believe to be increasingly indecent content on basic-cable networks, Hefner said that should not be a concern.

For starters, she added, Playboy TV is a premium service that consumers choose to pay extra for, not a basic-cable channel that is part of the overall expanded basic programming package. And she added that the content available on Playboy TV is not much different than the fare offered on other premium-cable services.

“Let’s not be naïve -- HBO is not a movie channel: HBO is an original-series channel with every bit as much adult content on it as Playboy has,” Hefner said. “The difference is that Playboy has a unique attitude and point of view that draws incremental customers. An HBO/Playboy package is about as logical a package as in Sirius [Satellite Radio] the Howard Stern package is. For some time, it’s been obvious that the consumer understands the difference between the adult offerings and Playboy.”

Hefner added that increased marketing of Playboy TV could be a two-way street -- Playboy would also promote the service through its own outlets.

“In a way, for [cable operators], it should be an ideal opportunity because it is a brand they can market and we can help them market,” she said. “We can go out to our subscribers in a particular market; we can use our Web site to drive traffic to TV and are more than willing to do that.”

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