Blu-TV in bed with Playgirl

Graff relaunches PPV porno channel

Mark Graff learned a costly lesson this year when he failed to get cable operators to take his pay-per-view porno channel Blu-TV: To succeed, you gotta have a brand.

Seeking a brand to which he could tie his porn pics, Graff stumbled upon three: Playgirl, High Society and Cheri.

These long-established monthly print magazines are part of 30-year-old publisher Blue Horizon Media, which has signed a joint venture with Graff to create a company called Trans Digital Media.

Venture will start pitching cable networks on Playgirl TV, a 24-hour PPV network to be available in three-hour blocks of programming. Porno movies will be the lure, but Trans Digital plans to commission original material like interviews, behind-the-scenes features and on-air hosts doing intros.

High Society and Cheri won’t be 24-hour networks; they’ll go out as video-on-demand services made up of 90 minutes a week of fresh material, which viewers can buy for $11.95 — a stiff price because the porno movies will not get much editing. Graff calls the versions of porno movies on High Society and Cheri “double X-rated” and the Playgirl product (which will also have a VOD platform) as slightly tamer, or “X and a half.” Unedited hardcore gets the triple-X designation. His target date for launching the three services is mid-March.

No cable operators have signed up yet, but Graff said he’s offering one of the most operator-friendly deals in the history of cable: The operator pays Trans Digital zero license fees and collects 90¢ on every dollar ponied up by the subscriber. With a typical pay service, the cable system gets less than 50¢ of every dollar and has to pay penalties if it doesn’t reach a specific number of subscribers.

“Video-on-demand is where Graff really stands a chance to make money,” said Dennis McAlpine, a media analyst and head of McAlpine Associates. In a recent report on New Frontier Media, which transmits six adult PPV networks, McAlpine recommended the stock, at least in part because of the “higher-than-expected rollout” of its VOD service on cable operators like Comcast.

About 10 million homes can receive VOD; that figure is likely to grow dramatically over the next few years as operators continue to upgrade their systems.

Graff envisions Playgirl as potentially the first PPV service to capture large numbers of gay men, who are avid buyers of the magazine because it features lots of buff naked men. Gay porno is still taboo on American cable systems, Graff says, “so there’ll be no man-on-man sexual intercourse in the Playgirl films.”

More TV

  • Joseph Mawle

    'Lord of the Rings' Series at Amazon Casts 'Game of Thrones' Alum Joseph Mawle

    Amazon’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series has cast Joseph Mawle in a main role, Variety has confirmed with sources. Mawle joins previously announced cast members Will Poulter and Markella Kavenagh. Official details of Mawle’s characters are being kept under wraps, but sources say he will play a villain named Oren. Amazon declined to comment. Reps [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins

    TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins 'She-Ra and the Princess of Power'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “She-Ra and the Princess of Power” Season 4 adds Jacob Tobia, and The Weather Channel announces the premiere date for its climate change special with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.  CASTING Jacob Tobia has joined Netflix‘s “She-Ra and the Princess of Power.” Voicing Double Trouble, Tobia joins Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5

    TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5 Million Viewers

    Who will watch the Watchmen? Turns out 1.5 million people, that’s who. The debut of the highly anticipated HBO series delivered that many sets of eyeballs across all the premium cabler’s platforms on Sunday night. For comparison, Sunday’s premiere was up 21% in linear on last week’s “Succession” season finale, and up 20% from the [...]

  • Variety Sundance Portrait Studio

    Melanie Lynskey Joins Showtime Pilot 'Yellowjackets' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Melanie Lynskey has been cast in one of the main roles of the Showtime ensemble drama pilot “Yellowjackets,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project tells the story of a team of talented high school girls soccer players who survive a plane crash deep in the Ontario wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Boosting Efforts in Project Development Amid Agency Standoff

    The Writers Guild of America, locked in a six-month standoff with major talent agencies, has announced that it’s boosting efforts at gathering TV, streaming and film project development data to help members find new employment opportunities. The WGA made the disclosure in a message to members on Monday. The guild directed its 15,000 members to fire [...]

  • Amy Poehler Jessica Goldberg

    Amy Poehler, Jessica Goldberg Team for 'The Mother-in-Law' Put Pilot at NBC

    Jessica Goldberg is set to write a drama with a put pilot order at NBC that Amy Poehler will executive produce. The project is titled “The Mother-in-Law,” based on the novel of the same name by Sally Hepworth. It is described as a thriller centered around a woman’s complicated relationship with her husband’s family that [...]

  • Beau Willimon Hulu The First

    Beau Willimon, Katie Cappiello to Produce 'Slut' Series Adaptation at Netflix

    Playwright Katie Cappiello is teaming with “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon to bring an adaptation of her 2013 play “Slut” to the small screen. The show, titled “Grand Army,” is set up at Netflix with Odessa A’zion set to lead the cast. “Grand Army” follows five students at the largest public high school in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content