The Comcast-owned channel was launched in April 2002 by Charles Hirschhorn. The lineup entirely consisted of gaming-related shows such as Arena (a multi-player gaming competition show), G4TV.com (an interactive talk show connected with the website), Cheat! (a show dedicated to cheat codes and walkthroughs; think GameFAQs on TV), and reruns of Starcade. The channel struggled to find viewers and get into more homes since the only major carrier with G4 was Comcast's own cable service. In 2004, Comcast bought out Tech TV, a channel focused on computers and technology that was carried on more systems. On May 28, 2004, the two cable channels with similar missions would merge into G4TechTV.
In reality, TechTV would be flushed out in less than a year's time. Comcast would close the original TechTV production facilities in San Francisco, giving its staff the ultimatum of either going to Los Angeles or going out of a job. X-Play and its hosts; The Screen Savers, which became Attack of the Show!; Anime Unleashed, a block for Anime programming; and Unscrewed with Martin Sargent, were the only remnants of TechTV to survive the merger.
Neal Tiles became G4's network president in 2005. Under his watch, G4 broadened its scope into a more general male-oriented channel in the vein of Spike TV, while downplaying its central focus on technology and video games. G4 obtained more off-network reruns, ranging from sci-fi/superhero/fantasy dramas to reruns of shows like Cops and Cheaters — the latter programming resulting in a huge backlash from the network's already splintered fandom.
On the positive side, This was also the era in which Attack of the Show! and X-Play became the network's flagship shows. The former brought on Olivia Munn as a co-host, who became an geek culture sensation. Code Monkeys, a cartoon that parodied 1980s video game culture, went on to become a Cult Classic. Ninja Warrior, a Japanese obstacle course game show, became the network's highest-rated show and inspired a successful U.S-based spin-off.
Despite the growing fanbase for G4's programming, the channel was still struggling financially. Layoffs continued as a cost-cutting measure and the G4 studios were eventually downsized and relocated to the same building as E! Entertainment and the Style Network. In November 2010, DirecTV dropped G4 as a whole, justifying the move by pointing at the network's low ratings. In response, Attack of the Show! would begin tearing DirecTV apart for kicking the network off their lineup every chance they got.note
By 2012, as Comcast finalized the acquisition of mass media company NBCUniversal, G4 gained a new network president in Adam Stotsky. Long-time G4 personalities Adam Sessler (X-Play) and Kevin Periera (Attack of the Show) left the network admist the rumors of another attempt to rebrand the network. Said rumors were proven true when in December of that year it was announced that G4 would be rebranded as the Esquire Network, in partnership with men's magazine of the same name. Not long after Sessler and Periera's departure, their respective flagship shows were cancelled in January 2013. This brought an end to all studio programming, and while it was eventually decided to leave G4 as is, the network would devolve into endless reruns of old original programming and episodes and a slowly-dwindling handful of syndicated shows during what would be its final years. note
Comcast removed G4 from its own cable systems starting in January 2014. Throughout the year, only AT&T U-Verse, the newly formed Google Fiber, and a few other small cable providers carried the channel to fulfill broadcasting contracts. Those agreements expired on the last minute of the 31st of December 2014, Eastern time. The network signed off with a game of Pong (referencing when G4 launched with all-week Pong games) that slowly shrunk and filled with a grey color, followed by a sound clip of Kevin Pereira shouting "I'M AT COMIC-CON!!!" (a possible allusion to G4 dying and going to "nerd heaven") as the dot shut off like an analog TV alongside Donkey Kong's death bloops from the Atari 2600 and the Game Boy start-up chime. You can see G4's symbolic "Game Over" for yourself on YouTube.
In the years since the network's demise, G4 Media continues to exist so that Comcast can maintain the TechTV and G4 program libraries. American Ninja Warrior would become the sole surviving G4 original series and is now a staple of NBC's Summer lineup. A Canadian version (originally based on TechTV) was shut down on August 31, 2017, after years of suffering through its own Network Decay. G4TV.com, survived for almost three years after the network's shutdown as a freemium game portal and an archive of sorts of older videos before being used as a redirect to Syfy Wire's website.
Speaking of, Syfy's freemium gaming website, Syfy Games, would eventually relaunch its news section with the G4 branding for a spell. As part Syfy's 2018 rebrand, the G4 website was shutdown completely in favor of the games section of Syfy Wire. Syfy as a whole would be seen as a Spiritual Successor of sorts to G4 due its focus on genre programming and fandom and for being the sole remaining Comcast-owned outlet to cover such a niche.
On July 24th 2020, a teaser for G4's potential return was unveiled, along with the The G4TV site. More on that can be found on this official thread moderated by some of the network's staff.
Outside the network, Disney XD launched their D|XP gaming block with content produced by former X-Play producer Wade Beckett and hosts Kevin Pereira (who produces The Attack, a Spiritual Successor to Attack of the Show!, first premiering on Twitch.) and Blair Herter. Code Monkeys resurfaced on Comcast's streaming service, Peacock, when it launched in 2020.
Original programming produced by, and aired on, G4TV include:
- American Ninja Warrior — Originally, American Ninja Challenge
- Attack of the Show!
- Code Monkeys
- Judgement Day
- Spaceballs: The Animated Series
- Web Soup