Playboy stock is beginning to go the way of so many soiled and discarded issues.

The stock dropped from 8.25 yesterday to 7.39 today. All of this comes after news last night that Playboy had a particularly sucky first quarter this year. The Playboy brand, which includes print publication, pay-per-views specials, and internet download as main sources of revenue, announced it would be seeing a fall in revenue from $85.4 million to a very disappointing $78.5 million this quarter.

According to Christie Hefner, the Playboy CEO and Hugh Hefner’s daughter, these…

results reflected the dual challenges of structural transformation in our traditional media business and a difficult U.S. economy. Our publishing and domestic entertainment businesses continue to face unprecedented change in the way consumers access and use media content.

I’m not really sure if the Playboy company is only realizing this now, but the Internet has become a dumpster of free pornographic content for users. Getting customers to purchase $30’s worth of pay-per-view specials is going to be a difficult sell.

However, according to the same MarketWatch report, subscription sales and revenue increased slightly in this past quarter. This does show that there is value to the flagship magazine product that started the whole franchise.

Maybe the age old ‘I’m just reading it for the articles’ excuse is coming to fruition. Playboy was one of the first magazines to feature online content back in 1994 and continues to push development in mobile distribution. This has added much of the value to Playboy’s modern content.

However in times of economic distress and high fuel costs, where is much of the disposable income going to get crunched? I would assume subscriptions to pornography, no matter how cutting edge and inspired they may be, wouldn’t fall under the necessities list. Especially with the availability of ‘cheaper thrills’ out there on the interwebs.

But Playboy has managed to stay afloat in rougher seas than this. It’s a powerful brand, and the Playboy mansions continues to be an American institution. Playboy even saw the value behind reality TV with its E! Channel show The Girls Next Door, which garners an audience of 2.17 million viewers for each new episode.

In other news, Playboy just got soccer game streaker Tiffany May to sign a contract for a nude pictorial in an upcoming issue.

Does anyone expect the Playboy brand to come up with new ways to add value, or could this be the end of the line for the bunny ears? Let us know in the comments section.

MarketWatch: Playboy swings to loss on revenue skid, May 6, 2008

Worldscreen: Playboy’s Christie Hefner