Penthouse Programming for Television

Porn Studies > Porn in the News

Miami Herald, 9/13/05 - Armed with $48 million in private financing, Boca Raton-based Penthouse Media Group is launching a bevy of television ventures as part of its bid to breathe new life into the famed men's magazine brand.

Digital video-on-demand, pay-per-view and subscription channels featuring ''the most incredible women in the world'' are planned first for North America next year, then Latin America, Europe and Asia.

''It's a pretty ambitious effort,'' said Chief Executive Marc H. Bell, the financier who led a group of investors in buying the bankrupt media company last year.

Penthouse's goal is to compete directly with other adult channels such as The Playboy Network, Playboy's Spice Network and New Frontier's The Erotic Network.

Penthouse hopes to drive consumers to the TV products through its magazines, clubs, websites and soon -- wireless content, Bell said.


To head the initiative, Bell has hired the former president of Playboy Entertainment Group and Playboy TV Networks Worldwide, James English.

''He's the man who built up their broadcast entertainment; he's going to do the same for us,'' Bell said, adding that the TV unit will be located in Los Angeles.


Television ventures can be more profitable than print ones, said New York magazine industry consultant Martin S. Walker.

''Why not? Playboy makes more money from the Spice channel than the magazine,'' he said. "These guys aren't publishers, but they do have a brand name.''

The move is part of Bell's overhaul of the 40-year-old media conglomerate, which fell on lean years in the '90s with competition from the Internet and pay TV.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2003, and Bell's investment group, which specializes in turning around ailing companies, snapped it up.

Bell later had to fend off another contender who had won founder Bob Guccione's support.

Since winning control of Penthouse, Bell has replaced the magazine's soft-core porn focus to make it a men's lifestyle title aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds.


''We've cleaned it up,'' Bell said. ``We've hired a sports editor, music editor, videogames editor.''

So far, the magazine has recovered some lost distribution ground and subscriptions, but newsstand sales are lagging somewhat, he said.

See New Publishers Bring Changes to Porn Magazine, Penthouse

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Porn Studies > Porn in the News

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