Earlier this year, OnlyFans, one of Britain’s most successful start-ups, briefly found itself at the heart of an identity crisis.
Much to the dismay of its homegrown pornographic content creators, the subscription service unicorn announced that it was banning sexually explicit content from its platform.
For many, this was very problematic. Unlike traditional porn studios, OnlyFans provided content creators with much more flexibility over their image and hours, whilst also providing consistency through job stability.
OnlyFans has also served as a lifeline for many sex workers, as the platform has provided content creators with the financial independence they need to support themselves and their families, and avoid the risks associated with working on the streets.
The panic, however, was short-lived. Luckily for the business and its dependents alike, OnlyFans did not implement this decision, avoiding the same fate as platforms like Tumblr, who followed through and lost roughly a third of their traffic.
Co-creator, Tim Stokely, came out in an interview a few days after the decision, claiming the issue was resolved, and blaming the unfair treatment from banks, also namedropping some big names like Metro Bank, JPMorgan, and BNY Mellon.
Though the banks and OnlyFans refused to comment further, there was some speculation about the initial decision, much like with sex toy and cannabis companies, finding investment is difficult in a vice industry.
Nonetheless, the competition still smells blood.
The online resurgence of Playboy
Playboy, one of the most infamous raunchy magazines of the 20th century, played a key part in Western culture, contributing to the sexual revolution of the 1960s-1980s. Whilst many “only read it for the interviews”, Playboy was at the forefront, connecting supply and demand for sexually explicit images for decades.
However, as the nature of porn consumption changed, Playboy wasn’t so quick to follow. For a few decades, Playboy remained a relic in the industry. However, after switching to an online magazine in 2020, Playboy has made its resurgence.
Earlier this week, the company accelerated its online project, and has agreed to pay $30M for shares in ‘Dreams’, which is expected to facilitate Playboy’s goal of creating its own sexual subscription service, ‘CenterFold’.
‘CenterFold’ aims to provide its content creators with multiple revenue streams and options within the platform. Users will have the chance to pay to message or even meet content creators, and unlike OnlyFans, they plan on introducing alternative payment options to tip with, such as Bitcoin, as well as exploring options with NFTs.
Despite their relative insignificance compared to previous decades, the merchandising and e-commerce section of their platform can give Playboy a foothold in this changed industry, due to their prominent branding which has remained a focal point throughout the years.
What will the future look like?
While the site is expected to launch in the fourth quarter this year, its announcement caused PLBY stock to rise by 1.3% on the 18th of October.
Though the only other recent resurgence of PLBY was due to the “meme-stock” reddit fiasco, this rise is still indicative of an interest in the platform, and the company overall, as it set up shop in an industry where there is still more money to be made.
Playboy is a pre-established brand, with decades of expertise in the industry. Considering this alongside the platform’s unique features, it has capacity to appeal to traditional and tech-savvy content creators.
For now, there is no saying how successful the streaming platform can be, however, Playboy’s decision to accelerate plans to finalise the platform sooner was a subtle yet direct response to the OnlyFans debacle.
Whether Playboy overtakes OnlyFans is uncertain, but what is certain, is that Playboy want a piece of the pie.