PLBY Group's Imminent OnlyFans Competitor Launch
The Centerfold Launch
Let’s break down what Centerfold is, firstly, and then I will deliver my verdict for what I think the underlying assumptions are for this segment of $PLBY 's business.
Centerfold is being labelled as a platform that facilitates the 2-sided interaction between creators and fans that brands like Cameo, OnlyFans, Patreon, and Twitter have pioneered over the past 5-years. Albeit, Twitter is the only one to fail at monetising this relationship.
Each of these platforms targets different forms of relationships between fans and creators, but I would look to OnlyFans as the closest comparable in PLBY’s case. Whilst Centerfold has not been explicitly branded as a “sexy content” platform, the connotations of the name imply as much.
When I think of the word, ‘centerfold’, I imagine a magazine spread open with both pages showing, and some iteration of a portrait (often a pin-up style nude) displaying a model across the two pages. Whatsmore, the technology from which this platform will be built hails from the assets of a nascent Onlyfans/Instagram replica, Dream, acquired by PLBY in October in a $30M all-stock deal.
Creators on the platform will be able to set up their own subscription/membership services, directly message their fans, and have some form of commerce-based tools from which to merchandise their following. Giving creators the tools to generate revenue for themselves outside of content.
More than just providing the platform from which to monetise their audience (or build one for emerging creators) there will also be opportunities for these creators to tap into PLBY’s merchandise design, production and distribution capabilities, engage in artist and merchandise collaborations with Playboy and Honey Birdette, and utilise NFT and blockchain tools. I would assume that for some creators, the prospect of potentially being featured on the Playboy media machine (whether an editorial, social media expsoure or interview) and the distribution that comes with that is quite appealing.
With a launch pending in December, and the cast of creators they are working with under wraps, all I know is that they hail from multi-disciplinary segments like music, art, fashion, former playmates, adult stars, actors, celebrities, and other influencers.
I am currently aware of a couple of the creators that have signed deals. Out of respect for them (and to avoid legal implications), I will be keeping that to myself, but I was impressed with the calibre. It feels as though PLBY have a genuine interest in attracting the best talent and building this thing on the back of what these creators want.
The ‘founding team’ of creators apparently boasts a social media following of 300M followers combined and are generating “hundreds of millions of dollars in GMV in the creator economy” currently. Some creators are exclusive to PLBY, but as you can imagine, others will want to leverage across multiple sites.
Centerfold is a call option. It did not exist at the time of PLBY’s re-entry into the public market and was absent from their SPAC marketing materials. As such, it’s also not included in the company’s 2025 guidance of $600M in revenues.
I prefer to think of the Centerfold business as a VC-type investment. Here we have a business starting from scratch and, all things considered, I have no idea how successful it will be, what the margins are, what ballpark range of revenue it will bring in, and so on. We have seen how successful OnlyFans has been lately, but benchmarking Centerfold to that platform at this stage would be nonsensical. I believe simply asserting that “I don’t know” is perfectly reasonable here.
Once I develop a stronger understanding of the implied costs to build this platform, the demand, the margins, the outlook, initial adoption rates, then I will have more data from which to draw a conclusion. For now, I think this has the potential to become a material, high-margin, and highly scalable segment for PLBY and one which presumably drives a majority of its revenues on a recurring basis. I did find Lance’s remarks about the potential for Centerfold to outsize their consumer product business interesting.
“I'm also not giving guidance today for Centerfold or membership as we've not fully launched these initiatives. What I can say is that if we are successful in working with our creators to build a sizable ecosystem, the long-term recurring revenue opportunity on Centerfold alone could be larger than our Consumer Products business, not to mention the potential of membership.
There are a few proof points we're sharing that lead us to believe there is tremendous upside potential here.” - Lance Barton, PLBY Q3 Earnings Call
Like all call options the upside is potentially explosive, but so do is the possibility of it becoming a zero.
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