Playboy TV offers “female-friendly” porn to appeal to couples

The New York Times reports that Playboy TV is looking to turn on the ladies now—or at least the straight ladies…with boyfriends.

The subscription channel has decided it can’t compete with the plethora of hard-core porn readily available on the internet and, come January, is looking to appeal to women by offering higher-quality porn, featuring “real chemistry, non-enhanced body parts, varied body shapes and ‘contextualized’ sex.”

Because that’s what women want. Yes, Playboy TV has finally answered that long-vexing question. Researcher Sharon Lee explains, “They want the romance to flow organically from the story and not pop up in a forced fashion as is the case in so many adult movies.” Apparently, they also just want porn to be better. Lee says, “Most sex-related programming looks fake, cheesy or cheap — or all three.” To attract women, they need to “invest in higher-quality content.” I’m not really sure why men put up with cheap, gross, low-quality porn with no real chemistry—you’d think that given the billions and billions of dollars they pour into the industry every year, they’d have some power to demand a better product. But hey—I guess women are just more “sophisticated consumers.”

Playboy TV’s new programming is called “TV for 2” and actually seems to be female-friendly in order to attract couples. The possibility that women might want to watch something different with their boyfriends than they would by themselves goes unexplored. In fact, it seems to be assumed that women wouldn’t be interested in watching porn alone. Which is strange since porn-watching is usually a solitary activity for men. The idea that women’s sexual desire could exist outside of a (heterosexual) relationship is apparently too much for the folks at Playboy to wrap their heads around.

Look, I think it’s sweet that Playboy’s VP says, “I’m pretty sure a lot of guys would rather be watching with their partner by their side.” And let’s be real—I will probably check out the docu-reality show “Brooklyn Kinda Love.” But I’m skeptical that Playboy TV really know what I want if they think my idea of porn is watching “monogamous couples receiving advice on how to achieve greater intimacy” with a boyfriend I don’t have.

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20 Comments

  1. Posted November 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I imagine that they probably did a boatload of market research to figure out what the population segment they’re after was looking for, since they’re presumably struggling to stay alive here. Your guess is as good as mine how much their preconceived notions overpowered their data, though.

  2. Posted November 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Love how Playboy thinks they’ve got the female market all figured out.

    • Posted November 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      I guess they’ve got men figured out too.

      I personally really do not enjoy the “cheap, gross, low-quality porn with no real chemistry” and would welcome more “sophisticated” content.

      Though I’m not sure if I would trust Playboy to do it well. Given how well-known and talked-about Playboy is, it was pretty underwhelming when I first saw (the inside of) the magazine. The majority of the models seem to look the same and to me, that look is sometimes pretty strange / fake.

  3. Posted November 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    There’s nothing real about most pornography, and I can’t imagine Playboy will suddenly make that connection with this venture.

  4. Posted November 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    hahahahaha… that’s really funny.. ‘cos when I am single, that’s when I watch porn. But if I’m dating someone, then I become LESS INTERESTED in porn.

    Also, many women have historically been put off by porn because of how females are portrayed in porn… or the kind of women who perform in porn — such as big breasts, long silky hair, perfect skin, large bottoms, etc, which makes some women feel inadequate and feeling like they can’t compensate enough for their male partners’ physical tastes in women.

    GET A CLUE, PLAYBOY!!!!

    • Posted November 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Direct quote from the post: “The subscription channel has decided it can’t compete with the plethora of hard-core porn readily available on the internet and, come January, is looking to appeal to women by offering higher-quality porn, featuring “real chemistry, non-enhanced body parts, varied body shapes and ‘contextualized’ sex.””

      Doesn’t that sound like it’s specifically designed to counter porn women would find distasteful for the reasons you mentioned?

  5. Posted November 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    While I wholeheartedly agree with defbrowntrash, I find it hard to criticize Playboy for making an effort to cater to women. Misdirected or not, I’m pretty sure this is a first in history. Plus, the program hasn’t come out yet – who knows? Maybe it will actually be arousing, even if it doesn’t quite fit the feminist definition of porn we all want to see.

  6. Posted November 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    While I wholeheartedly agree with defbrowntrash, I find it hard to criticize Playboy for making an effort to cater to women. Misdirected or not, I’m pretty sure this is a first in history. Plus, the program hasn’t come out yet – who knows? Maybe it will actually be arousing, even if it doesn’t quite fit the feminist definition of porn we all want to see.

    • Posted November 18, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I don’t know how groundbreaking the material will actually be, but I think it’s pretty neat to know that women are starting to be recognized as actively sexual by such a mainstream, visible company.

    • Posted November 19, 2010 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      Well, it’s not the first time a major effort is made to make porn programming targeted specifically at women. One example that comes to mind is the subsidiary Puzzy Power set up by Zentropa (the movie company of director Lars von Tier – Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist, .etc). I believe it’s the only time a mainstream movie company has produced hardcore porn.

      P.P. was established in 1997, produced 3 or 4 titles, got a lot of (mostly positive) press in Europe, but folded in 2001 due to “disappointing financial results”. Zentropa now runs another porn subsidiary, Innocent Films.

      As for catering to women, they initially produced a manifesto explaining what they meant by that.

  7. Posted November 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Funny, the porn that turns me on the most is gay porn! Being that my boyfriend is bisexual this works perfectly for us as a couple.

    While I appreciate the attempt to appeal to women, I am skeptical. Women are often lumped into one group with very similar interests, so it will be interesting to see what they think women find appealing.

  8. Posted November 19, 2010 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Well, gotta give ‘em credit for finally being aware that more than just men are into the porn thing, and that some women and couples together have different tastes than just men alone.

    I wish them luck on this… I know they’re trying to stay relevant and all, and it’s only marginally succeeding. Maybe this will give them a leg up.

  9. Posted November 19, 2010 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    To me the most interesting point here is that while Playboy decides to make programing targeting women, their perceived market is still (heterosexual) couples. Does this reflect a cultural tradition where female sexuality in itself, for itself is simple scary. Is it that the editors at Playboy can’t imagine sex that is not ultimately for the benefit of a man? Or is it just market research about what makes buying porn “acceptable” for women?

  10. Posted November 19, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Definitely a step in the right direction.

    I think I get why it’s being geared towards couples. Playboy is known as a very male-centric brand. It’s unlikely that many women will suddenly start paying for a channel called Playboy TV, especially if they are unaware of this new “female friendly” porn. However, there is a decent chance that the guys who are drawn to Playboy TV will become aware of the new programming and try to include their girlfriends in it. Maybe – maybe – over time, it will spin off and be solely geared towards women.

    As for Playboy assuming they know what women want, that’s just marketing. Women, men, minorities – everyone falls victim to that.

  11. Posted November 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I think this is great! I love GOOD porn.

  12. Posted November 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think this will necessarily appeal to all women, though. I don’t like plot in my porn, I just want to see people I find attractive having sex.

  13. Posted November 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it’s just because I’m female, but a lot of this seems like a “Thank You, Captain Obvious” moment to me. Are the people at Playboy really so confused by women that they have to resort to “market research” to figure us out?

    • Posted November 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Meh. All companies do market research before they make changes. It’s just good business sense.

  14. Posted November 20, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Their porn is not my porn, and will never will be my porn.
    Say I am hetero woman and my porn involves men: will Playboy really show men being sexy, out of the context of the woman? No of course not, because that will isolate their male demographic that thinks if they see a naked man then they are gay. A woman can not have heterosexual porn not in context of the woman. That then is called homosexual porn. However, you can have porn aimed at heterosexual men with only women. Its called…plan ‘ol porn. I will admit that Playgirl is a whole other ball of wax. To this, I refer to the XKCD comic (http://xkcd.com/714/)
    I have come to terms with the fact that playboy only appeal to the hetero demographic …yet somehow, i’m sure they have discussed producing femme lesbian porn while thinking about their hetero male demographic.

  15. Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Yea, I have to agree with most of the previous comments–I doubt I’ll like anything Playboy could ever come up with. When I do watch porn, it’s usually gay porn (or even just gay sex scenes from movies) because a) there’s a lot less fake, exaggerated moaning b) the men are usually better looking, c) the camera actually lingers on the men’s bodies, d) no fake, bored-looking porn-star women, e) there’s an element of passionate reciprocity in some gay porn that seems to be lacking in most hetero porn, where the woman just performs and is treated like a sex object with orifices (there is a lot of good amateur hetero porn though, I should add).

    I personally don’t need “contextualized” porn with a whole backstory and whatnot. As they say in slash fiction, “Plot? What Plot?”. What I need is a porn genre that is not so theatrical and fake-looking: sex that actually looks like people having sex. The genre known as “girl-on-girl” porn seems most guilty of this, with all its giggling and tongue-flicking and coy glances at the (usually male) observer off-screen which, as a bisexual female, I find completely bizarre and alien.

    Of course, this is just my perspective, but what I’m trying to highlight is that the reason that this new ‘female-friendly’ section is going to fail is the same reason why Playboy’s popularity in general is declining: lack of recognition that sexual desire is very heterogeneous and no amount of market research is going to find the catch-all key to female (or male) desire. Unfortunately, its failure is just going to be attributed to the supposed general lack of female interest in porn. What surprises me, however, is that nobody seems to have picked up on the HUGE plethora of internet erotica made mostly by women/for women: erotic fiction, explicit fan fiction, sexy illustrations, sexually-explicit manga/anime and webcomics, youtube mash-ups and movie clips of people getting it on, etc. Sure, this might not appeal to all women, but it certainly seems to appeal to a lot of women considering there’s so much of it to be found online.

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