Cinemax to Scotch Skinemax in Favor of Original Content

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—Cinemax became a consistent provider of softcore adult fare after midnight 30 years ago, when the cable network became Cinemax After Dark, or Skinemax. But porn on the internet has led to a decline in viewers, and the decision has finally been made by the channel’s HBO overlords to move in a different direction.

According to Variety, a plan has been quietly underway for two years to “tamp down the channel’s notoriety as ‘Skinemax,’ even at the risk of losing some of its loyal viewers.

“Yes, there’s still flesh on display in original Cinemax series like Strike Back and Banshee,” the trade continues, “and you can still see skin-bearing series such as The Girl’s Guide to Depravity, but executives think a focus on higher quality and action will give the network a new calling card. The softcore fare that established Cinemax is tame by comparison to some of what can be seen in originals on HBO and other pay TV channels. And on the blue end of the spectrum, viewers can find a whole world of free Internet porn just a click away.”

In fact, HBO brass would like nothing better than to completely rebrand Cinemax. As Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president of programming, put it, “The hope is that I don’t hear ‘Skinemax’ any time after our original programming — what I’ll call the primetime originals — start to really take over the (lineup).”

Still, with around 13 million subscribers, Lombardo said he has no plans to make Cinemax content squeaky clean after the midnight hour.

“I think there won’t be the same kind of programming for that spot, but at the same time, we aren’t abandoning it,” he said. “It’s obviously enjoyed by our subscribers, and everyone is aware of it.”

Many of them were even raised on it.