Playboy on Wednesday cited coronavirus woes for killing the print version of the magazine founded in 1953 by Hugh Hefner. But the reality is, the magazine was losing millions a year, Media Ink has learned.

According to one wellplaced source, the magazine was losing about $1 million an issue after moving to a quarterly mag without ads in early 2019. And despite Playboy charging $25 for the oversized glossy, those losses added up to between $4 million to $5 million a year, the source said.

“None of the US media has made any money for years,” the source said. The company today derives more than half its revenue from overseas licensing deals, and more than 50 percent of the licensing revenue flows in from China.

On Wednesday, CEO Ben Kohn pulled the plug in a blog post, saying “the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic to content production” forced Playboy execs “to accelerate a conversation we’ve been having internally.”

Kohn, a board member of the private equity firm Rizvi Traverse that also owns Playboy, said in the post that the Playboy brand is successful because it drives $3 billion in sales worldwide.

But sources tell Media Ink Playboy reaps only a tiny percentage of the sales it drives through licensing deals, generating a revenue of approximately $70 million in 2019.

Hefner featured a nude Marilyn Monroe on the very first issue in 1953, and Playboy was soon selling over 7 million copies a month on newsstands and was often touted for its articles in addition to its nudie pics.

Since the explosion of the internet, however, it’s had to compete with cheap online porn, which has dragged on Hefner’s empire, as did concerns about his treatment of women.

Hefner died in 2017 at the age of 91 at his famed mansion in Los Angeles.

He was later revealed to have been battling E. coli and blood poisoning prior to his passing in his home, which was often filled with scantily clad women.

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