G4 (TV channel)

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G4
G4 (TV channel) logo.svg
Launched April 24, 2002 (2002-04-24)
Closed November 30, 2014 (2014-11-30)
Owned by G4 Media
(NBCUniversal)
(Comcast)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide (available in select areas)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Formerly called G4techTV (2004–2005)
Replaced TechTV
Sister channel(s) Bravo, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Syfy
Website www.g4tv.com
Availability
IPTV
AT&T U-Verse 1149 (HD)
149 (SD)

G4 (also known as G4 TV) is a soon-to-be-defunct American digital cable and satellite television channel that is owned by G4 Media, a unit of the NBCUniversal Cable division of NBCUniversal. The channel was geared primarily toward young male adult viewers and originally focused on the world of video games, before transitioning to a more general entertainment format. G4 is headquartered in Los Angeles.

In late 2012, G4's studio programming ceased in preparation for its re-launch as the Esquire Network on September 23, 2013, as part of a licensing deal with Hearst Corporation, owner of Esquire magazine. However, on September 9, 2013, news broke that NBCUniversal would replace Style with Esquire Network, leaving G4 "as is for the foreseeable future, though it's highly unlikely the company will invest in more original programming".[1] As of August 2013, approximately 61,217,000 American households (53.61% of households with television) were receiving G4.[2]

According to a boilerplate statement sent by NBCUniversal Cable to the remaining small providers carrying the network, G4 would end all operations on November 30, 2014.[3][4][5] Likely for contractual reasons, a loop of the channel remains on AT&T U-Verse that is likely to run until the end of 2014.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

The channel was launched on April 24, 2002 under the ownership of Comcast.[6] The initial concept was to create a service similar to TechTV but "geared more toward MTV's demographics" (young adults). The channel was launched with the following shows:

  • Arena: a multi-player game competition between two teams of four players.
  • Filter: a top-ten countdown voted by viewers.
  • Blister: focused on action/adventure game news.
  • Cinematech: described as a showcase for the best high-end digital art.
  • Game On: two hosts competed in video game action come to life with dire consequences for the loser.
  • Sweat: focused on sports game news.
  • Cheat!: tips and cheat codes on video games.
  • Portal: focused on multiplayer online games.
  • Pulse: news on the video-game industry.
  • Judgment Day: currently known as Reviews on the Run, "two video-game gurus will opine on the latest entries."
  • G4tv.com: an interactive talk show on video games.
The first G4 logo, used from 2002 to 2005

G4 was created and originally led by Charles Hirschhorn, a former president of Walt Disney Television and Television Animation.[7] He expected video game creators themselves to eventually produce programming for the channel. He envisioned that G4 could follow in the footsteps of MTV, which in his opinion provided music video producers with a venue for non-traditional television programming.[8] Hirschhorn intended G4 to become a vehicle for unconventional advertising. In 2002, G4 offered advertisers wide latitude to place their products on G4's programs, and even allowing their commercials to appear as if they were a part of the program.[9] G4 offered what was called a "2 minute unit", which was an advertising package played as if it were part of a G4 program that was long enough to run an entire movie trailer. G4 offered to sell the right to have a game showcased on the show Pulse.[9]

G4techTV[edit]

Main article: G4techTV

On March 25, 2004, Vulcan Inc. announced that G4 Media would acquire TechTV and merge it with G4.[10] The combined channel was branded G4techTV. Days before the announced sale, Comcast made plans to close the original TechTV production facilities in San Francisco and offered new headquarters in Los Angeles with openings for 80 to 100 TechTV employees available if they were willing to relocate. Hirschhorn headed the combined entity.

Logo used from May 2005 to March 2007. This logo is still used by G4 in Canada

Second era as G4[edit]

On February 15, 2005, less than a year after the merger, "TechTV" was officially dropped from the channel's name in the U.S. and the channel became known again as G4.[11] However, the channel's Canadian version retained the "G4techTV" name until mid-2009, when it was renamed G4.

In September 2005, Neal Tiles replaced Hirschhorn as the channel's president.[12] Tiles had previously been a senior marketing executive at DirecTV, Fox Sports and ESPN.[13] He announced that G4 would be retooled as a male-oriented channel, stating that "guys like to play games, but not necessarily watch a bunch of shows with games on the screen".[14]

Comcast announced on October 12, 2006, that it would consolidate its west coast entertainment operations, including G4, E! and Style into a new group headed by Ted Harbert, who had formerly run E!. It was announced that the upper management of the G4 channel would relocate to E!'s Los Angeles office.[15] Harbert gave his opinion at the time that the focus of the channel on "gaming has been demonstrated as being too narrow." He also gave assurances that while G4 might change, it would not become extinct.[16][17]

On March 4, 2007, it was announced that the G4 Studios in Santa Monica, California, would close on April 15. Production of G4 programs was relocated to the Comcast Entertainment Group facility, which housed E! and Style Network, in the Wilshire Courtyard complex in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles (G4's original facility remains in use as an E! studio and office facility and was utilized by Chelsea Lately and After Lately until their October 2012 move to Universal Studios Hollywood). As a consequence, many G4 employees involved in production were terminated. The sets of G4's original programs were also redesigned to fit within the new smaller spaces allocated to them.

In April 2007, G4, in association with Earth911,[18] launched an electronic-waste-recycling campaign called Gcycle.[19] After Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011 (effectively integrating G4 and the other Comcast Entertainment Group channels into NBCUniversal), Gcycle became part of the company's "Green is Universal" initiative.

In June 2008, G4 launched G4 Rewind, a block that showed older episodes of X-Play, Judgment Day, Cheat, G4tv.com, Arena, Portal, G4's Training Camp and GameMakers. G4 Rewind left the schedule at the end of that summer and returned for daytime reruns for older episodes of X-Play in June 2009 until January 2010.

On February 17, 2009, it was reported that G4 intended to cut back its original programming. X-Play would be reduced to three nights a week while Attack of the Show! would be cut to four nights a week. Consequently, a number of the staff and production crew involved in the shows would be laid off. Layla Kayleigh also left G4 in April 2009 after Neal Tiles announced that her contract would not be renewed.[20][21]

It was announced during Comic-Con 2010 that G4 would be the exclusive broadcaster of Marvel Anime, which aired in 2011.[22] During the week of July 26-August 1, 2010, G4 changed its logo to 4G as a promotion for Sprint Nextel's next generation wireless internet service.[23]

G4 logo without digital backdrop. Used for almost a year until May 20, 2012. Still in use on G4's website.

Loss of DirecTV carriage[edit]

On November 1, 2010, DirecTV announced that it had removed G4 from its channel lineup,[24] citing low interest in their subscriber base and Nielsen ratings as the primary reason for dropping of the channel.[25][26] DirecTV commented that it was "...unable to reach an agreement to continue carrying the G4 channel and it has been removed from the DirecTV channel lineup."[27] On October 30, 2010, Attack of the Show! host Kevin Pereira echoed Comcast's sentiments about the decision, stating that "G4 has offered DirectTV [sic] the same basic deal they have had for the last three years, but DirecTV has rejected this claiming that they do not see the value in G4."

Proposed Buyouts by UFC and WWE[edit]

It was reported that the UFC and WWE were in separate talks to buy G4 in 2011.[28][29] Talks with both companies apparently fell through, and UFC eventually partnered with Fox, while WWE launched its own network on February 24, 2014.

Post-NBC Universal/Comcast merger[edit]

On January 5, 2012, Neal Tiles stepped down as CEO.[30] He was replaced by former NBC marketing chief Adam Stotsky.[31] Long-time employees Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira departed the network during the first half of 2012 for other opportunities. On May 20, 2012, G4 was given a graphical overhaul, still utilizing the current G4 logo, except the bug moved to the bottom right corner instead of the top, and made translucent. The logo was rendered in 3D for on-air promotions. This overhaul discontinued "The Feed" ticker, and the "G-Spot" shorts shown during commercial breaks. The network's syndication agreement for Cheaters ended in December 2012.

On October 26, 2012, it was announced that X-Play and Attack of the Show! would be discontinued by the end of the year.[32] This would end all of G4's studio programming, leaving it only airing acquired and syndicated programming. Reports of G4 rebranding itself in 2013 into an upscale men's channel appeared previous to the recent programming changes. X-Play and Attack of the Show! aired their final original episodes (taped a month earlier) on January 23, 2013.

Aborted rebrand as Esquire Network[edit]

In December 2012, NBCUniversal signed a brand licensing deal with the Hearst Corporation, owner of Esquire magazine, to relaunch G4 into Esquire Network, which will air shows aimed at a metrosexual audience about travel, cooking, fashion and non-sports related male programming, including the addition of acquired and archive NBCU content such as Party Down, Parks and Recreation, and week-delayed episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[33][34][35] The rebranding was scheduled to take place on April 22, 2013,[34] but was moved to an unspecified date in the summer on April 15, 2013. Network general manager Adam Stotsky stated the rebranding was pushed back in order to have a broader original series slate to launch with than would have been available for the April launch. Stotsky confirmed that a new season of American Ninja Warrior would air on the network in the summer.[35] All promotional advertising for G4, outside of spare "up next" promos for the network's daily schedule, were discontinued weeks before the aborted April launch. Limited advertising with the G4 logo within the Esquire Network's graphics scheme was produced for the new season of American Ninja Warrior, which proceeded with its premiere in June as scheduled. Sideboard advertising along the show's obstacle course had Esquire Network branding, as most of the competition was recorded before the change in rebranding. The show had more repeats on NBC during that summer to maintain ratings momentum. In May 2013, the launch date was pushed to September 23, 2013, with its first program being an 80th anniversary special for Esquire.[36]

On September 9, 2013, news broke that NBCUniversal would replace Style with Esquire Network, leaving G4 "as is for the foreseeable future, though it's highly unlikely the company will invest in more original programming".[1] The last active vestige of the network, G4 Media's American Ninja Warrior, became a full production of its existing production companies and NBCUniversal Television Distribution with its sixth season, leaving G4 Media solely as a dormant division of Comcast maintaining the G4 and TechTV program archives and the remaining operations of the G4 network.

Slow closure and carriage removals[edit]

Upon the re-branding of Style Network to Esquire Network on September 23, 2013, G4 was dropped from several cable providers. Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks (Bright House carriage contracts are negotiated by Time Warner Cable) were the first to drop G4, citing the network's low viewership as "(not a) good value for our customers".[37] Verizon FiOS discontinued the channel on October 1, 2013, and Cablevision did so on October 10, 2013, pursuant to a filing with the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control (that state's utility service regulator) a month prior, that NBCUniversal had plans to discontinue G4's operations as of the October 10 date, though only the discontinuation of carriage by Cablevision occurred.[38]

Late in October 2013, Charter Communications, which was one of the charter carriers of TechTV when it was a sister of that network under the ownership of Vulcan Ventures, announced its intention to drop G4 on December 17; sister network Cloo replaced G4 on its systems.[39] On November 1, 2013, Dish Network, which is a part owner of the network through its joint venture G4 Media with Comcast/NBCU, announced that it had removed G4 from its lineup with Esquire Network replacing G4,[40] ending all carriage of the network from direct broadcast satellite services. Cox ceased carriage of G4 in all markets at the end of 2013.[41]

NBCUniversal's parent company, Comcast, began to remove G4 on its Comcast/Xfinity systems on January 6, 2014.[42] Comcast did not state outright that the network would cease operations on that date.[43] G4 continues to be carried on other cable systems nationwide despite being largely absent from the top 10 media markets (Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, or Comcast, or some combination thereof, is the dominant cable operator in all of the top 10 Nielsen DMAs). G4 still appears on NBCU's corporate website, but it is no longer present on NBCU's "Media Village" press site.[44]

With G4 slowly winding down operations, syndication rights to Heroes and Lost expired at the end of August with the new television season, along with the rights to COPS, which moved over to Cloo, leaving G4 to only air repeats of their original series beginning on September 1, 2014.

NBCUniversal Cable confirmed that the network would end all on-air operations on November 30, 2014 via a statement to the remaining providers which disseminated it in legal channel lineup change notifications.[3][4][5] The aforementioned providers continued airing the network until the alleged cutoff date (or when their contracts with G4 were fully exhausted), ending all carriage of the network from cable providers and cable television services.[45] Some providers have kept the channel on past this point, and AT&T U-Verse continues to run the channel, likely due to enforcing an existing programming contract that will end at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 31, 2014.[46]

G4 HD[edit]

G4 HD is a high definition simulcast feed of G4 that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format, it launched on December 8, 2008, alongside the entire suite of Comcast Entertainment Group networks at the time. It is carried on AT&T U-verse[47] and in select areas by smaller providers.

Canada[edit]

Main article: G4 (Canada)

A Canadian channel called G4 Canada was launched in 2001 as TechTV by Rogers Media (33.34%), Shaw Communications (33.33%) and TechTV U.S. (33.33%). It uses the "G4" trademark under license from NBCUniversal, and initially both channels shared a focus on technology and video game-related programming. Since the rebranding as G4, both channels deviated considerably from the original format. However, many of G4's later programs, including newer series such as That's Tough (which no longer airs as of April 2012), Electric Playground, Reviews on the Run, Campus PD and Rude Tube air on G4 Canada.

G4 Canada airs older (and often, out-of-date) tech content such as The Lab with Leo Laporte to meet their channel content requirements under CRTC guidelines in off-peak periods. Some of their programming blocks in the past paralleled each other, such as the Anime Unleashed block paralleling G4 Canada's Anime Current block, and the Midnight Spank block paralleling the ADd block.

The network's CRTC remit requires it to maintain tech content and, on occasion, it had to roll back some of G4TV's male-targeted programming due to CRTC concerns. Over time, the network has migrated to featuring new tech-related content, including syndicated programming.

Website[edit]

In addition with the network, G4 maintains a website, which includes video game trailers and reviews, select video clips of its original shows, and formerly, original web programming.

The network's website has remained somewhat active, though features have been removed with the network's decline. The site has not been updated to modern navigational or visual styles, and G4 never took up any TV Everywhere initiatives allowing viewing of the network's programs on the site with cable provider credentials. The network maintained a now-defunct iOS app featuring access to the website and forums. The network's forums ceased operation on March 18, 2013. The site is infrequently updated, outside of automated programming guide listings and advertising previews for films and games that have long since been released, along with an out-of-date channel list. An updated 'top story' on February 18, 2014 advertised a freemium branded game platform known as "G4Now", which now interlines with sister network Syfy's gaming service SyfyGames.com. The site's "breaking news" alert tag is now used to promote SyFy or Esquire Network programming rather than any actual breaking news.

G4TV's former gaming and geek culture news blog, "The Feed",[48] continued providing entertainment-related news articles until May 31, 2013. On June 3, 2013, articles began appearing on "The Feed" promoting Esquire Network programming. The last article in the series appeared on August 9, 2013 to promote Knife Fight with information retrieved from a random RSS feed involving a sandwich recipe. Two random entries promoting Syfy's Robot Combat League and an article about iPhone accessories appeared through 2014.

Programming[edit]

The network's programming schedule consists of past G4 programming such as Web Soup, Campus PD and various Marvel anime shows. The network also broadcasts some of their older shows, such as Human Wrecking Balls, That's Tough, Proving Ground, and 2 Months, $2 Million. Episodes of X-Play from the last part of 2012 continue to air despite the content being out of date and featuring ended promotions such as a "Dew XP" promotion for Halo 4 involving Mountain Dew's Game Fuel drink line.

Notable hosts (2002–2013)[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rose, Lacey (September 9, 2013). "NBCU Switch-Up: Esquire Network to Take Over Style, Not G4 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 23, 2013). "List of How Many Homes Each Cable Networks Is In - Cable Network Coverage Estimates As Of August 2013". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "G4 to be Discontinued". GBT. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "G4 Channel Will Cease Airing on November 30, 2014" (Press release). Union Information Systems, Plainfield, Wisconsin. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Saying Goodbye to G4" (Press release). Great Plains Communications, Blair, Nebraska. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Sieberg, Daniel (April 24, 2002). "24-Hour Video Game Channel Set to Launch". CNN. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Charles Hirschhorn profile". Forbes. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ Richey, Joshua (October 17, 2006). "Pressing Buttons 10.17.06: The Rise and Fall of G4 (Part 1)". 411Mania. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Williamson, Debra (June 10, 2002). "G4 widens playing field for advertisers". Ad Age. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ Fosy, Dan (March 26, 2004). "Comcast buys TechTV: Cable giant to fold channel from S.F. into video game unit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ G4 Drops TechTV Handle, Broadcasting & Cable 1/10/2005.
  12. ^ "G4 - About - Management - Neal Tiles - President". G4TV. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Neal Tiles bio". G4TV. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Martin, Denise (May 8, 2006). "Cablers Make Play for Gamer Demos — G4 Evolving into a Lifestyle Channel, Peppered with Vidgame Culture". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Comcast Broadens Harbert's Role". Broadcasting & Cable. October 12, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  16. ^ "E! pwns G4". Boing Boing. October 12, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  17. ^ "G4 Not Getting Axed". Voodoo Extreme. October 16, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  18. ^ Earth 911
  19. ^ Wilson, Mark (April 22, 2007). "Earth Day Roundup: Not Lame, We Promise". Gizmodo. Retrieved October 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ G4's "Open Source", March 2, 2009
  21. ^ G4's "X-Play", "Attack of the Show" Cut Back, Variety, February 17, 2009
  22. ^ Posted July 24, 2010 - By Mike D'Alonzo (2010-07-24). "Four Marvel Animated Series Coming To G4 In 2011". G4tv.com. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  23. ^ G4 Channel to Become 4G in a Week of Sprint Promotion, The New York Times
  24. ^ DirecTV Pulls G4 from Lineup - Move Comes After Failed Carriage Negotiations with Comcast, Variety, October 31, 2010
  25. ^ DirecTV drops G4 Entertainment Weekly November 1, 2010
  26. ^ DirecTV Drops Comcast's G4 The Hollywood Reporter November 1, 2010
  27. ^ "DirecTV G4 statement". Support.directv.com. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  28. ^ "Reports: UFC, NBCUniversal discuss G4". ESPN. June 9, 2011. 
  29. ^ "G4 to be re-branded after NBCU turns down WWE & UFC take-over bids". Pro Wrestling Torch. February 11, 2013. 
  30. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 5, 2012). "G4 President Neal Tiles Steps Down". Deadline. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  31. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 5, 2012). "Former NBC Marketing Chief Adam Stotsky Named General Manager Of G4". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  32. ^ Schneider, Michael (October 26, 2012). "Exclusive: G4 to End Attack of the Show and X-Play". TV Guide Magazine. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  33. ^ Rose, Lacey (December 7, 2012). "NBCUniversal, Hearst Corp. Close Deal to Rebrand G4 as Esquire Channel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  34. ^ a b G4 Staff (February 11, 2013). "G4 To Be Rebranded As The Esquire Network On April 22nd". G4TV.com. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  35. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (April 15, 2013). "Esquire Network's Launch Pushed To Summer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  36. ^ Bibel, Sara (May 29, 2013). "Esquire Network to Debut September 23; Primetime Kicks Off With Special Celebrating Esquire Magazine's 80th Anniversary". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Facebook answer to question about removal of G4 from systems". Time Warner Cable. Facebook. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  38. ^ Young, Jennifer (September 10, 2013). "Re: Programming Change". Cablevision letter to Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Channel Lineup Changes - Charter Communications". Charter Communications. Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Facebook answer to customer's post about removal of G4 from systems". Facebook. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  41. ^ http://ww2.cox.com/residential/arizona/support/tv/article.cox?articleId=241f0100-e8c1-11e2-5f64-000000000000
  42. ^ "Confirmed: Comcast Ceasing G4 Distribution In January". G4 Rewind. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Upcoming Contract Renewals". Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Cable: NBCUniversal". NBCUniversal. Retrieved September 26, 2013. 
  45. ^ Schneider, Michael (December 12, 2013). "The End is Near (More or Less) for Zombie Channels Like SoapNet and G4". TV Guide. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  46. ^ U-verse Programming Changes - AT&T U-Verse (accessed December 1, 2014)
  47. ^ "AT&T U-verse HD Channels". Hd-report.com. 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  48. ^ "The Feed". G4TV.com. May 31, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 

External links[edit]