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:Cable television network TechTV
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!
, originally named ZDTV after original parent company Ziff-Davis, launched in 1998 to capitalize on the rapidly-increasing technology boom and devoted itself entirely to timely, topical, and good
programming about technology and the internet. The channel soon became a popular source for news and commentary about the tech world for those who received it. During the channel's entire 6-year-run, it was located in San Francisco, California.
The network rebranded itself
as TechTV in 2000 after CNet purchased ZDNet and sold the network's assets to Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen. It soon launched a major push into live programming with an unprecedented nine-hour block of live programming every weekday, which eventually mutated into several live or semi-live shows such as The Screen Savers
, Unscrewed With Martin Sargent
, and Call For Help
. The network also ran a handful of taped shows, including video game review show Gamespot TV
, which later became Extended Play
. Late into its run, it also broadcast a handful of anime
series, including Crest of the Stars
and The SoulTaker
, as something of an answer to [adult swim]
Of course, it never stood a chance of surviving.
TechTV always had money issues, which manifested as layoffs throughout the early part of its life. Its major cable carriage came from sister company Charter Communications, which has long "enjoyed" a reputation within the cable industry as a struggling company. The September 11th attacks doomed the long-form tech news format — which had already struggled beforehand, since one can only talk about tech companies in so many ways without seeming redundant — and the rise of RSS newsfeeds made it easy to track a certain company or subject through online sources instead of waiting for a linear news format to report on them. The network rebounded in 2003 thanks to good ratings for a number of its new shows, primarily Unscrewed
. This rebound happened shortly after
Comcast dropped TechTV from its lineups nationwide in favor of G4TV
, a Comcast-owned network that focused on video games.
Rumors say Comcast replaced TechTV in order to devalue the network
in pursuit of its eventual goal. In 2004, Comcast bought TechTV and merged it G4TV, then issued an ultimatum
to the casts and crews of all of TechTV's shows: "Move to Los Angeles or you're fired." The vast majority of the staff and talent chose Option B, and in hindsight, they made the smart decision: nearly everyone who picked Option A saw their shows get cancelled within months
, and the few shows G4TV kept around suffered from meddling to an absurd degree. Prior to the end of 2012, X-Play
stood as the last remaining show from the TechTV days to still run on the network. G4TV retooled The Screen Savers
into Attack of the Show!
, which ended up looking nothing like its original parent program. At the end of 2012, both shows ended up getting cancelled and the network would shut down on December 31, 2014.
TechTV gave rise to a number of individuals who still offer tech-oriented websites and/or podcasts on the internet. Several of the names below had already become known in the tech world prior to TechTV, while others first came to prominence thanks to the network:
- Adam Sessler (The original host of Gamespot TV/Extended Play; co-hosted X-Play until he was fired in 2012; would go on to lead Revision3's gaming division until 2014 when he left, wanting to pursue a career outside of gaming)
- Alex Albrecht (Host of The Screen Savers post-merger; now part of Revision3)
- Kevin Rose (Host of Attack of the Show!; co-created Digg, now runs Revision3, and works for Google — who acquired his startup for a good amount of money)
- Leo Laporte (Co-host of The Screen Savers and Call For Help; now runs the TWiT Network)
- Martin Sargent (Host of Unscrewed who also started out as on-screen talent for The Screen Savers; now out of the business and working in advertising)
- Morgan Webb (Co-host of X-Play who started out as on-screen talent for The Screen Savers; co-hosted X-Play until it ended in 2012; now with Activision Blizzard)
- Patrick Norton (Co-host of The Screen Savers; now part of Revision3)