Creator / G4TV

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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 and its death was one of the most tragic cable stories since FNN (the Financial News Network) was sold for parts to CNBC in 1992.

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), Cheat! (cheat codes and walkthroughs; think GameFAQs on TV), and reruns of Starcade. 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 and Cheaters repeats. However, this was also the period Attack of the Show! and X-Play 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. Code Monkeys was an 8-bit parody of the 80s and video gaming, and 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 cancelled and ended their runs on January 23, 2013, effectively ending all G4 studio programming. The network was to be rebranded into the Esquire Network with Esquire magazine as the partner. However in late 2013, it was decided that Esquire Network would take over the Style Network's channel space, leaving G4 as a "zombie" channel that just looped its own programming and direct-to-consumer ads with the loneliest phone lines in the industry. 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 small cable providers carried the channel to fulfill their contracts to Comcast and NBC until 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 "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 Esquire Network went through its own Development Hell/Troubled Production period. The channel's initial launch date was April 22, 2013 but that date was changed to the lack of programming made and it's launch date was moved September 23, 2013. But then the entire rebrand strategy changed when NBCUniversal decided to replace Style Network instead, because Style had more broader carriage than G4 and because it was too similar to NBCU's other two women-focused networks, E! and Oxygen. This was announced with very little notice, you can imagine the fury amongst Style Network's fans. So in the end G4 was replaced with...Nothing! Absolutely nothing! The inital ratings for the Esquire Network were unable to be measured by Nielsen because they were "too low to meet its “minimum-reporting standard," and ratings and interest continued to stay low. Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse, and Direc TV dropped the network in late 2016, with its future very much in doubt.

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, the sole surviving G4 original series, now airs on both NBC and Esquire Network. The show is no longer produced by G4's quasi-parent company G4 Media, which now exists solely to maintain the TechTV and G4 program libraries.

In March 2015, a small glimmer of hope emerged as Syfy's freemium gaming website started a news and videos section with the G4 branding. The site also employs some former G4 employees as writers. Although it's probably done for trademark reasons, the fact NBCUniversal is still using the G4 name for new content is a small reassurance for the channel's fans.

See Nerdist 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 Twitch and the notable are cataloged here on TV Tropes under Video Review Show and Let's Play.

Alternative Title(s): G 4

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