Playboy TV Slates Animated PPV Series

In an effort to add innovative, original programming to its pay-per-view lineup, Playboy TV will launch a 3-D computer-animated adult series in September.

Dark Justice, a one-hour, "fantasy-filled" parody of the superhero/crimefighter genre, will launch on Sept. 3, Playboy vice president of programming and acquisitions Claire Zrimc said. A mix of dark humor and action, it will anchor Playboy's Sunday-night primetime block.

The series, in development for more than a year, is already slated for 26 episodes and could be expanded if successful, said Zrimc, who is also executive producer. The show revolves around Justina, a sultry, seductive superheroine and vigilante who uses her incredible martial-arts skills and vast array of hi-tech gadgets, weapons and vehicles to stay one step ahead of the police as she takes on the city's most bizarre villains.

"One of the things that we like to do at Playboy is to come up with new and different ways to explore sexuality in a way that's never been done before," she added.

Though Playboy hopes the series will draw PPV viewers to the network, Zrimc said, Dark Justice is aimed more at driving pay subscriptions. The show will provide Playboy with four nights of original series, following Night Calls (Wednesdays), Sex Court (Fridays) and Naughty Amateur Videos and Sexcetera (Saturdays).

Although Playboy TV generates double-digit monthly PPV buy-rates, the network decided to emphasize premium sales after it was successful with both premium and PPV offers through direct-broadcast-satellite services.

Premium subscriptions represent at least 70 percent of Playboy's DBS revenue, the network has said.

"I think that a series like this will help the network move toward a subscription model and helps flush out the network's programming lineup," Zrimc said.

Playboy executives also expect the animated series to have a major presence in affiliated media outlets such as Playboy magazine and the company's Internet site, Playboy.com.

"While Dark Justice will have its premiere on Playboy TV, the series opens up opportunities for exposure online as well as in the magazine, where we could run a strip cartoon each month," Zrimc said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.