Playboy TV is taking a unique approach to pay-per-view
programming by producing "reality-based" original programming for its adult-PPV
Playboy has recently attempted to move from a programming
format comprised primarily of adult movies and Playmate specials to a service with strong,
original series and interactive specials, said Jim English, president of Playboy Networks
"We've been able to broaden our programming
appeal and still maintain the fantasy movie programming and the [Playmates]," English
Late last month, for example, the network debuted a
news-documentary series to complement its lineup of originally produced fare, which is
generating high-performance numbers in a move aimed at setting Playboy apart from its
Behind Closed Doors -- produced by Playboy, along with
Reality Productions Group -- is similar to Home Box Office's America Undercover
series, with a greater focus on sexual issues. The series launched last month with a look
at "swingers" who participate in spouse swapping and home orgies, according to
"The Behind Closed Doors series is sexy and
smart programming," English said. "The reports blend journalistic intelligence
with fascinating stories and uncensored depictions of real people finding sexual
liberation and enjoying their freedom."
Behind Closed Doors joins several other original
programs that the network has launched recently in attempt to distinguish itself from the
movie-based adult product that dominates the schedules of other adult-PPV services.
English said the new shows are more reality-based and reflective of Playboy's
increasingly diverse viewing audience.
"In a diverse world, Playboy wasn't very diverse,
so we developed programs such as Women of Color in an effort to make the network
look more contemporary and like the rest of the world," English said.
To further bring itself up to date, Playboy moved into the
interactive arena with its live Night Calls talk/interview show. Two hosts take
calls from viewers describing their most intimate sexual desires, which are often acted
out during the show.
The primetime Night Calls series was an immediate
success. It still generates more than 125,000 calls per show, despite the loss of many
West Coast viewers due to the implementation of Section 505 of the Telecommunications Act
of 1996, which limits adult networks' hours on many cable systems to between 10 p.m.
and 6 a.m., English said.
He asserted that the show has succeeded in broadening
"We went from only guys calling, to couples calling,
to women themselves calling," English said. "It showed us that people would
respond to more reality-based programming."
Other shows -- such as Naughty Amateur Home Videos,
which has become the network's No. 1 show on a PPV buy-rate basis, and Sex Court,
a more provocative version of the syndicated court shows -- have also proved popular,
according to English.
"We've definitely been able to create destination
viewing and give viewers something that they wanted to see," English said.
Other original series include Sexectra, another
sexually oriented news program that allows the show's journalists to become part of
the story, and The Profession, a quarterly dramatic series.