Playboy Magazine to Cut Circulation by 38 Percent

Bob Preston
CHICAGO — In an effort to generate more ad sales, Playboy's print edition is cutting its circulation by 38 percent.

The move comes as Playboy slashes its "rate base," which refers to the minimum number of magazines or periodicals that a company promises its advertisers it will distribute.

The new rates will go into effect for the January 2010 issue, which will only reach 1.5 million people instead of Playboy's previously promised number of 2.6 million. Playboy missed its 2.6 million-rate base by 146,734 for the first half of 2009.

In addition, Playboy is also slowly lowering the number of issues it prints. The company had already combined its July and August issues into a double issue, and it plans to do the same with the January and February 2010 editions.

The rate base cut marks a steady decline for Playboy, which once commanded a rate base of 6 million in 1971. Publishing analysts suggest that the company is trying to appeal to a younger market.

"Playboy is evolving its editorial in the hopes of becoming more appealing to men in their 20s," said Jennifer Nastu of Media Buyer Planner. "With that in mind, the cover of the November issue of the title features Marge Simpson, and inside the issue is a three-page pictorial featuring Marge in cartoon lingerie."

Not all the news is bad, though. Playboy's stocks are trading near their yearlong high.