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Playboy Online revenues double

The Playboy unit is growing but still unprofitable, posting an operating loss even as its second-quarter revenues double.

    Like most Internet companies, Playboy Online is growing but still unprofitable.

    The Playboy unit's second-quarter revenues doubled from last year, but it posted a widened operating loss because of investments in staff and content, the company said today.

    The Playboy Online unit, launched in January, posted a $1.5 million operating loss for the three months ended June 30, wider than a $200,000 loss posted for the like quarter a year ago. The unit's quarterly revenues doubled to $1.6 million from $800,000.

    The parent company of Playboy Online, See special feature:
Playboy pins hopes on Net Playboy Enterprises, posted net income of $2.1 million, or 10 cents per share, for the second quarter, compared with $1.5 million, or 8 cents a share, posted for the like quarter last year. Total revenues essentially were flat.

    "We are encouraged by the doubling of revenues in the quarter from Playboy Online," Playboy Enterprises chief executive Christie Hefner said in a statement. "This level of performance, together with investments in growth businesses, will help us achieve our goal of turning Playboy into a $1 billion market cap company."

    During the past year, Playboy has been building its e-commerce and online subscription offerings in an effort to lure new customers. In keeping with its strategy, the company this week unveiled a fresh lineup of original content and retailers that will be featured on Playboy.com.

    In addition, Playboy announced today that, as of June, its Web site has received more than 65 million page views, and that its subscription-based Playboy Cyber Club now can count 26,000 members. The Cyber Club charges up to $60 per year for access to archived articles and photos, as well as Playmate chats and home pages. Pay-as-you-go transactions also are being tested.

    The club's membership, which launched last summer, has grown at a rate of about 1,000 members a month since January. Playboy says it has yet to aggressively market the site.

    Although the publishing company has icon status, its magazine venture suffered huge declines in circulation during the 1970s and in revenues during the 1980s.

    Under Hefner's guidance, Playboy has turned to other media to grow its business. She helped the company make a profitable foray into television in the early 1990s, and now is looking toward the Net, e-commerce, and the convergence of PCs and television as ways to forge new revenue streams.