Playboy’s Digital Revs Drop As Loss Narrows

Marge Simpson Playboy cover

Playboy (NYSE: PLA) Enterprises’ hopes for a planned sale were dashed during Q4, as its revenue troubles continued as well. As the company’s loss narrowed to $27.8 million from last year’s $146.8 million, combined print and digital revenues fell 14 percent. On its own, digital slid 10.7 percent in Q4.

In a statement, CEO Scott Flanders tried to reassure investors that he had a plan to stabilize the company. One of the major strengths Playboy has is its iconic brand and licensing has been playing a bigger role in the company’s operations. Flanders said Playboy struck a deal with IMG to outsource our Asian licensing business, which along with the November deal to hand off most of the non-editorial functions of Playboy magazine to American Media, is part of Flanders’ program to sharpen the company’s focus.

Digital’s decline was attributed to lower paysite and advertising dollars. That said, Playboy has tried to offset the reduced amounts from digital through layoffs and other cost-savings related to content. The company did point to improved revenues and profits from the international and mobile businesses, which helped balance out the weakness in the U.S. market.

On the licensing front, revenues gained 10 percent to $8.7 million. The Entertainment Group’s segment income was down by $1.6 million to $2.6 million as revenues plunged 18.8 percent $23.7 million.

Things weren’t all dark at Playboy. The magazine itself swung to a profit in Q4. The company said the move to combine the January/February 2010 issues into one editorial package and the newsstand success of the November ’09 “Marge Simpson” cover led to an increase in fourth quarter 2009 circ dollars.

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