Playboys Diginets Look to Get Spicier


In a major shift, Playboy Enterprises Inc. will move toward more explicit adult pay-per-view fare, launching three new services that offer triple-X programming for near video-on-demand and video-on-demand.

Adding Spice Platinum, Spice Platinum2 and Spice Platinum Live is a departure from Playboy's more traditional cable fare, designed to compete against emerging rivals such as New Frontier Media's Extasy, True Blue and GonzoX. The services have limited U.S. distribution but are part of New Frontier's adult digital tier, which debuted late last year.

Sources close to the situation said Playboy would launch the three triple-X services in early 2001. Playboy executives would only say that the company would release more details at the Western Show.

In the past, Playboy has taken pains to convey that its programming is more cable-friendly than adult networks such as The Hot Network and The Erotic Network. In fact, Playboy sold The Hot Network-formerly Spice Hot-to Vivid Video because it didn't want its brand associated with the less-edited product.

But The more explicit adult services generate 50-percent to 100-percent higher buy-rates than the milder Playboy and Spice adult fare.

Operators also charge higher retail prices for The Hot Network and keep as much as 80 percent of the revenue, compared with 60 to 70 percent for Playboy and Spice, respectively.

"It's quite clear that the world is gravitating to the next level [of adult standards] and its becoming more acceptable," said the source.