G4 (American TV network)
|Slogan||TV 4 Gamers |
Video Game Television
TV That’s Plugged In
The Videogame Station
We Never Stopped Playing.
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Launched||April 24, 2002 (original)|
|Replaced||TechTV and G4techTV|
|Closed||December 31, 2014(original)|
|Former names||G4techTV (2004–05)|
G4 (also known as G4tv) is an American pay television network that is owned by G4 Media, a joint venture between the NBCUniversal Cable division of NBCUniversal and Dish Network. The network originally launched on April 24, 2002 and was primarily focused on video games and gaming culture.
In late 2012, G4's studio programming ceased in preparation for a planned relaunch as Esquire Network, as part of a licensing deal with Hearst Corporation, owner of Esquire magazine. Esquire Network would ultimately replace Style Network instead, on September 23, 2013. G4 announced in November 2014 that it would end all operations;. The network shuttered on December 31, 2014. By August 2013, it was reported that approximately 61,217,000 American households (53.61% of households with television) were receiving the network.
G4 was launched on April 24, 2002, under the ownership of Comcast. The initial concept was to create a service similar to rival TechTV but "geared more toward MTV's demographics" (young adults). The channel was soft launched with a nonstop Pong marathon for a whole week.
G4 was created and originally led by Charles Hirschhorn, a former president of Walt Disney Television and Television Animation. 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 provided music video producers with a venue for non-traditional television programming. 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 allowed their commercials to appear as if they were a part of the program. 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.
Merger with TechTV
On March 25, 2004, Vulcan Inc. announced that G4 Media would acquire TechTV and merge the two networks. The combined network was rebranded as G4techTV. On February 15, 2005, less than a year after the merger, the "TechTV" brand was dropped from the channel's name. A Canadian version of TechTV, originally launched in September 7, 2001, would also be relaunched under the "G4techTV" branding and would retain the brand until 2009.
In September 2005, Neal Tiles replaced Hirschhorn as the channel's president. Tiles had previously been a senior marketing executive at DirecTV, Fox Sports and ESPN. 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".
Comcast announced on October 12, 2006, that it would consolidate its west coast entertainment operations, including G4, E! and Style Network 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. Harbert gave his opinion at the time that the focus of the channel on "gaming has been demonstrated as being too narrow."
In April 2007, G4, in association with Earth911, launched an electronic-waste-recycling campaign called Gcycle. After Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011 (effectively integrating NBCUniversal's stake in G4, as well as the other Comcast Entertainment Group channels, into NBCUniversal), Gcycle became part of the company's "Green is Universal" initiative.
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.
It was announced during Comic-Con 2010 that G4 would be the exclusive North American broadcaster of Marvel Anime, which made its television debut in 2011. 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.
On November 1, 2010, DirecTV announced that it had removed G4 from its channel lineup, citing low interest among their subscriber base and low Nielsen ratings as the primary reason for dropping of the channel. 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."
On January 5, 2012, Neal Tiles stepped down as CEO. He was replaced by former NBCUniversal marketing chief Adam Stotsky. Long-time employee Adam Sessler was let go during the first half of 2012. On May 20, 2012, G4 underwent a brand refresh, still utilizing the original version of the current 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 promos. This brand refresh removed the "Feed" ticker, and the "G-Spot" shorts shown during commercial breaks. This brand refesh also removed the slogan on this date.
On October 26, 2012, it was announced that X-Play and Attack of the Show! would be cancelled by the end of the year. This would end all of G4's studio programming, leaving it only airing acquired and syndicated programming.
In December 2012, NBCUniversal signed a brand licensing deal with the Hearst Corporation, owner of Esquire magazine, to relaunch G4 into Esquire Network which would 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. The rebranding was scheduled to take place on April 22, 2013, 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. In May 2013, the launch date was pushed to September 23, 2013, with its first program being an 80th anniversary special for Esquire.
Since August 2013, the channel has been airing TV shows in form of comedy, mainly during the afternoon and primetime hours, such as South Park, American Dad!, Corner Gas, and Mr. Bean. This rebrand also marked the channel's addition of sitcoms, sketch comedy, and stand-up comedy programs.
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". On September 23, 2013, G4 was dropped by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks (Bright House carriage contracts are negotiated by Time Warner Cable), citing the network's low viewership as "(not a) good value for our customers". 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.
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. On November 1, 2013, Dish Network removed it from the lineup with Esquire Network replacing G4, ending all carriage of the network from direct broadcast satellite services. Cox ceased carriage of G4 in all markets on December 31, 2013.
Certain cable operators reported that the network would end all on-air operations on November 30, 2014, and 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.
A note on the G4 website's program schedule was added to that particular episode saying "Thanks for watching G4." The network would cease broadcasting with a game of Pong on the screen, referencing the network's launch, gradually getting smaller and smaller before becoming just a small dot, followed by the sound of the San Diego Comic-Con attendee Ramses to Kevin Pereira shouting "I'm at Comic-Con!!!", (possibly alluding to G4 dying and going to Comic-Con, occasionally nicknamed "nerd heaven"), as the dot shut off like an analog TV alongside the Atari 2600 version of Donkey Kong's death bloops and the Game Boy start-up chime, thus symbolically ending the network with a "game over". After a few seconds, the provider's automated "network is no longer carried" card was automatically placed on-screen, after which the channel spaces created by TechTV in 1998 and G4 in 2002 mostly ceased to exist, ending the TechTV and (temporarily) G4 legacies. Several days after G4 signed off, some cable providers replaced G4's slot entirely with other offerings including, but not limited to Chiller, Cloo, Pivot, and Al Jazeera America. All these channels have all since ceased operations as well.
On July 24, 2020, the Twitter accounts of G4, Attack of the Show! and X-Play were reactivated to post a teaser video announcing a revival of the network slated for 2021. The teaser was released during "Comic-Con@Home", the first virtual streaming edition of the San Diego Comic-Con. G4's website was reopened with a playable game of Pong which, if won, redirects to a mailing list sign up for updates. The campaign was in-reference to the network's original launch in 2002 and their shutdown in 2014.
On September 4, 2020, the official G4 YouTube channel uploaded a video featuring former X-Play host Adam Sessler as one of his fictional characters, Crazy Adam, asking for fans to submit applications to become a G4 host or simply nominate their favorite personalities with the hashtag, #G4NeedsTalent.
On November 16, 2020, G4 announced A Very Special G4 Holiday Reunion Special, hosted by Ron Funches and featuring the network's former personalities and hosts. The special premiered on November 24 on Twitch and YouTube; Syfy would also air the special on November 27. During the special, WWE superstar Xavier Woods would be the first newly announced host for G4's relaunch, after beginning a campaign on Twitter to become a G4 personality in August 2020. On the same day of the special's premiere, G4 launched Gravython, a charity drive that would be raising funds for a variety of community partners.
Though primarily dedicated to video game culture, G4's programming later expanded to encompass sci-fi and fantasy-genre shows and unrelated, general entertainment programming aimed at young adult men, and later, a TV channel focused on comedy.
The network's website featured video game trailers and reviews, select video clips of its original shows, and web original programming. The website continued providing entertainment-related news articles until May 31, 2013, with the last article posted on G4's website as a replacement for the site's schedule section, was a notice stating that "NBCUniversal has discontinued all operations for G4" seven days after the network left the air.
G4's website was relaunched on July 24, 2020, coinciding with the announcement of the revival.
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