Chicago Getting More Play Time

For the first time, Playboy At Night is being offered in Chicago, the city where Playboy magazine was launched four decades ago and maintains its headquarters.

Playboy At Night now is accessible to 4 million homes in the U.S. with cable addressability, including the 115,000 Chicago homes currently served by Austin, Texas-based Prime Cable on a pay-per-view basis.

Playboy, according to Michael Fleming, senior v.p. and general manager of Playboy’s pay-tv division, was thwarted in its attempts to reach the Chicago market. Group W Cable, which had shared the market with Tele-Communications Inc. until selling its franchise to Prime last June, “did have objections to some of the content of our programming,” Fleming said.

TCI was not an ideal candidate for Playboy At Night, according to Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, because it is not aggressive on the subject of addressability, which allows consumers instant computer access to p-p-v programs.

Prime Cable, however, is fully addressable and has no apparent difficulties with Playboy’s content.

Playboy’s cable efforts have been available in Chicago suburbs since 1982, when the Playboy Channel was launched. The service was renamed Playboy At Night in December 1989 and revamped to emphasize original programming.

Hefner said the number of homes to which Playboy At Night has access has doubled since its launch and the number of monthly p-p-v buys has increased more than 200%. She added that the Playboy Entertainment Division, which markets Playboy At Night through its Playboy Video subsidiary, lost $1 million two years ago – before the makeover – and made $3 million in the last fiscal year.

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