Playboy TV plans to kick off its fifth season of Night
Calls this Wednesday (Sept. 15) by launching an adults-only contest aimed at sending
18 couples on a free trip to the Hedonism III vacation resort in Jamaica.
According to Playboy TV Worldwide president Jim English,
Playboy's audience appealed to the owners of Hedonism, which offers both nude and
nonnude sections in its clubs.
Viewers will hear new code words during the 18 live
episodes of Night Calls scheduled through next July 19. Entrants need the code
words to enter the contest via phone, e-mail or fax. The first winning couple will be
announced on-air during the Oct. 6 show.
Playboy will also promote discount vacation packages to
Hedonism III for the weekend of Nov. 13, when Night Calls hostesses Juli Ashton and
Tiffany Granath will film their show on-location at the new resort.
According to English, "We have created a family of
viewers" who like to meet each other, but most of all, who like to meet the
English credited Night Calls with boosting
Playboy's midweek pay-per-view buys.
"Pay-per-view is traditionally very popular on the
weekends," he said. "We've helped cable to pull up their buy-rates on
Wednesdays. We've found that Wednesday has become date night for people who watch the
The Night Calls hostesses typically take about 20
calls from viewers during each 90-minute episode. But English said the show receives more
than 100,000 attempted calls each week from all over the country.
"We get a lot of Middle America calling in," he
said. "That surprised us." He added that the show prefers to take calls from
women because they are typically more literate and have better stories to tell.
Night Calls is one of the network's most popular
shows, and it drives buys where Playboy is available principally on a PPV basis.
Direct-broadcast satellite providers EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. also
offer Playboy as a monthly premium service.
Ultimately, English envisions the day when Playboy is
bundled in a larger programming package, rather than sold as a separate premium service,
somewhat like the move Disney Channel made from primarily premium to basic.
English said cable subscribers tend to shy away from adult
programming when they have to talk to customer-service representatives to ask for it
Digital technology on both the cable and satellite sides
also help to push buy-rates because they allow viewers to order PPV programming
electronically, rather than over the phone.
And parental lockout features allow subscribers to keep
offensive programming out of the reach of their children.