Zodd: Don't you think we can do a little better than DTV?
Phil: Why, what's wrong with DTV? It's television for demons, we're demons — it's perfect.
Zodd: Yeah, but you know how these specialty cable networks are: they start out real good, but then they lose their focus and things go downhill real quick. Just look at what happened to G4!G4
(also known as G4TV
) was a television network known for its focus on video games
and geek culture, and infamously associated with network decay
. Since the inception of the network, it had gone through some serious growing pains trying to find an audience and gain ratings and advertisers.
Simply put, the channel was a failed exercise in Old Media Playing Catch-Up
in television channel form.
The Comcast-owned channel was launched on April 24, 2002 by Charles Hirschhorn. The lineup entirely consisted of gaming related shows such as Arena
(featuring multi-player gaming competitions), G4TV.com
(interactive talk show connected with the website), and Cheat!
(cheat codes and walkthroughs; think GameFAQs
on TV). The channel was struggling to find viewers and get into more homes, as it wasn't available on many cable/satellite providers. The long Infomercial-like
presentations of video game trailers didn't really help much, either.
In 2004, Comcast bought out TechTV
(a low-rated, but beloved technology/computer based channel) and merged the channels into G4TechTV, gaining TechTV's channel slots on different providers. Much of the TechTV identity and brand was flushed out, saved for X-Play
and its hosts, The Screen Savers
(which would later become Attack of the Show!
), and Unscrewed with Martin Sargent
. The merger lasted less than a year before the channel was changed back into G4, but not without gaining infamy with the TechTV fans and much of the audience the channel was aimed towards. Despite the huge amounts of change and upheaval, the network still managed to have a dedicated fanbase for the original G4 programming and personalities.
In 2005, Neal Tiles was named the new network president. He attempted to broaden the channel's scope into a general male-oriented channel in the vein of Spike TV
. During his reign, more off-network reruns started to air such as the much-maligned Cops
repeats. However, this was also the period Attack of the Show!
hit their strides and became the flagship shows of the channel. Attack of the Show!
hired a new co-host Olivia Munn
, and became an Internet/pop/geek culture sensation and X-Play
broadened its scope to encompass all of video game culture. Ninja Warrior
became the network's highest rated show. Despite all of this, there was still struggling behind the scenes. Layoffs continued to save money, the studios were relocated to same building with E!
! and the Style Network and downsized. And then on November 1, 2010, DirecTV dropped the channel from its lineup, saying that the ratings didn't justify carrying it.note
By 2012, only Fuel TV, an extreme sports network which eventually became Fox Sports 2, had lower measurable ratings than G4 among cable networks which had their ratings measured.
Then, in 2012, the final shoe dropped. With the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger, G4 gained yet another new president Adam Stotsky (who works with Bonnie Hammer, who is associated with the Sci-Fi Channel
's network decay). Adam Sessler and Kevin Periera, two long time hosts, left the network (Munn already left in 2010 for a successful acting career). The two flagship shows, X-Play
and Attack of the Show!
were canceled and ended their runs on January 23, 2013, effectively ending all G4 studio programming.The network was to be rebranded into the Esquire Network on April 22, 2013, with Esquire
magazine as the partner.
The Esquire Network went through it's own Development Hell
period: The date of April 22, 2013 passed and the network didn't launch yet to the lack of programming made and it's launch date was moved to later that summer. G4, by that point became a channel on a robo-feed, going through it's library of original programming, acquisitions, and year-old X-Play
re-runs. Finally settling on a date of September 23, 2013, Esquire Network was set to take over G4. So then when the date arrived and after all the promotions about the Esquire Network and the firings and cancellations, G4 was replaced with... nothing! Absolutely nothing!
It turned out that NBCUniversal decided to replace Style Network instead of G4 because it had a broader carriage than G4, along with removing one duplicate network among NBCU's four women-focused networks.
And this was announced with very
little notice, so you can imagine the fury amongst Style Network's fans. And before G4 fans' hopes were raised, NBCUniversal also stated there would be no new programming for G4, leaving it to be a "zombie" channel that just looped it's own programming. Comcast removed G4 from all of its systems beginning in January 2014
, with several cable providers such as Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, and Dish Network dropping it earlier.
Throughout 2013 and 2014, only AT&T U-Verse and a few other smaller cable providers still carried the channel to fulfill their contracts to Comcast and NBC. The syndication deals for LOST
, and Cops
ended in September 2014, and the schedule primarily consisted of moldy-old episodes of X-Play
, the Marvel Anime
shows, Web Soup
, and other G4 originals; all while running advertisements for the Esquire Network and direct-to-consumer ads with the loneliest phone lines in the industry. It was reported that G4 would shut down on November 30, 2014, but some companies, AT&T U-Verse being the highest profile, stuck to their contract and removed the channel the last minute of December 31, 2014. The last programming day's hours consisted of the 5-part The Top 100 Video Games of All Time
special, followed by the first episode of X-Play
, the last show to air on the network.
The channel's final sign-off was a game of Pong
(referencing when G4 launched with all-week Pong games
) that slowly shrunk and filled with a grey color. Then, a sound clip of AOTS
host Kevin Pereira shouting "I'M AT COMIC-CON!!!" was played (possibly alluding to G4 dying and going to Comic-Con i.e. "nerd heaven"), as the dot shut off like an analog TV alongside Pong
's end-match bloops and the Game Boy start-up chime, symbolically ending the network with a Game Over
. If you wanna experience it for yourself, click right here.
The website G4TV.com is now a skeleton portal hosting the network schedule, a freemium game portal that's little promoted and visited, and shows the withering bones of the network's dormant social media presence. Some providers replaced the channel with sister network Cloo, while others gave the space to budding networks such as UP and Pivot. American Ninja Warrior
is the sole survivor of G4 and airs on both NBC
and Esquire Network, and is no longer produced by G4's quasi-parent company G4 Media, which now exists solely to maintain the TechTV and G4 program libraries.
And for the few G4 die-hards out there, here's some cold comfort: the ratings for the Esquire Network
are currently unable to be measured by Nielsen because they're "too low to meet its “minimum-reporting standard". This will probably eventually change, though for now the launch of the Esquire Network and death of G4 is one of the most tragic cable stories since FNN (the Financial News Network) was sold for parts to CNBC in 1992.
as a direct Spiritual Successor
(and also has many G4 personalities working there). Also see ScrewAttack
as well as the many gaming personalities on YouTube
and the notable are cataloged here on TV Tropes
under Video Review Show
and Let's Play