G4, formerly known as G4TV, was a television network with a focus on video games that shuttered in 2014, then later revived as a brand in 2021. The original network went through some serious growing pains in trying to find an audience and gain ratings and advertisers, leading it to be one of cable television's most infamous cases of Network Decay.
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 cable/satellite providers. 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 TechTV production facilities in San Francisco, giving its staff the ultimatum of either relocating 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. (Charles Hirschhorn later apologized for his actions in essentially killing TechTV.)
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 a 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 amidst 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. All those agreements expired by midnight EST on December 31, 2014. 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 a Comic-Con attendee 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. On the other hand, a Canadian version (originally based on TechTV) was shut down on August 31, 2017, after years of suffering through its own Network Decay.
In the years since the network's demise, G4 Media continues to exist so that Comcast can maintain the TechTV and G4 program libraries. To this day, the sole surviving G4 original series is American Ninja Warrior, which is now a staple of NBC's Summer lineup. The network's website, G4TV.com survived for almost three years after G4'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. Syfy's freemium gaming website, Syfy Games relaunched its news section with the G4 branding, which only lasted for a few months. As part of Syfy's 2017 rebrand, the G4 website was shut down 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 to its focus on genre programming and fandom and for being the sole remaining Comcast-owned outlet to cover such a niche.
In July 2020, to the surprise of well...everyone, it was announced that G4 will be revived as a digital-first network, launching in 2021. The revival was teased with the G4 website coming back up (with a game of Pong that was seen in the announcement trailer, bringing everything full circle, wherein if you win, you input your email and eventually got a Free T-Shirt!) and the G4, X-Play, and Attack of the Show! social media feed going active once more, and a star-studded reunion special hosted by actor and comedian Ron Funches (and later featuring an appearance from WWE & TNA wrestler and newest member of the G4 family Xavier Woods aka Austin Creed), followed by a Thanksgiving charity stream of Among Us. Both can be viewed here. This incarnation is being run outside of NBCUniversal, however (partially due to the strange setup the old G4 had; it was majority-owned by Comcast but EchoStar, the creator and former owner of Dish Network, had a stake in TechTV and this carried over, even after G4 shut down and EchoStar itself spun off Dish Network to concentrate on satellite hardware); it's instead under Comcast Spectacor, their sports and arena division. Why you might be asking? Because thanks to Tucker Roberts, son of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Spectacor owns a few E-Sports teams, including the Overwatch team Philadelphia Fusion; Tucker serves as head of the revived network.
As of 2021, there were more members added to the G4 family namely Ovilee May (noted LCS personality), Froskurinn (well-known LEC personality), Alex 'Goldenboy' Marvez (well-known esports caster as well as personality in the world of gaming, Kassem 'Kassem G' Gharaibeh (well-known YouTube personality), V Tuber Code Miko, Twitch streamer Gina Darling, The Completionist, and content creator Will Neff alongside returning veterans Kevin Pereira and Adam Sessler (hosts of Attack of the Show! and X-Play respectively). In addition to that, it was announced in April 2021 that G4 would once again air the classic Ninja Warrior (along with seasons 35-37 that for the first time for American audiences would be seen) alongside Unbeatable Banzuke and Takeshi's Castle Indonesia. In May of 2021, G4 announced that they'll be premiering a new tabletop RPG-oriented series dubbed D&D Live which is a live broadcast of Dungeons & Dragons. Since the Spring of 2021, G4 is holding a series of Twitch streams dubbed 'B4G4' and later 'G4 Beach House' as a way to provide content ranging from gaming commentary (i.e. X-Play), challenges, and bits (i.e. Attack of the Show!) as well as putting up Youtube videos each and every week on their channel.
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. Former G4 head Neal Tiles has started VENN, with backing from mega-station group Nexstar Media. Code Monkeys resurfaced on Comcast's streaming service, Peacock, when it launched in 2020.
- Adam Sessler - host of X-Play (2003-2012, 2021-present)
- Morgan Webb - host of X-Play
- Kevin Pereira - host of Attack of the Show! (2005-2012, 2021-present) and Arena (2005)
- Olivia Munn - host of Attack of the Show! (2006-2010)
- Candace Bailey - host of Attack of the Show! (2011-2013)
- Kristin Adams - host of Cheat, host Cheat segments on X-Play (2005-2013)
- Blair Herter - Attack of the Show! correspondent, X-Play host (2012-2013), American Ninja Warrior host (2009-2012)
- Blair Butler - Attack of the Show! correspondent, hosted "Fresh Ink" segment
- Jessica Chobot - X-Play and Attack of the Show! correspondent
- Layla Kayleigh - Attack of the Show! correspondent, hosted "The Feed" segment
- Sarah Underwood -Attack of the Show! correspondent, hosted "The Feed" segment
- Zach Selwyn - Attack of the Show! correspondent
- Allison Haislip - Attack of the Show! correspondent, American Ninja Warrior host (2009-2012)
- Sarah Lane - host of Attack of the Show! (2005-2006)
- Chris Hardwick - Attack of the Show! correspondent, host of Web Soup (20092011)
- Matt Mira - Attack of the Show! correspondent, hosted "Gadget Pr0n" segment
- Diane Mizota - host of Filter (2002-2005)
- Tina Wood - host of g4tv.com
- Laura Foy - host of g4tv.com
- Geoff Keighley - host of Judgement Day and g4tv.com
- Victor Lucas - host of Judgement Day and Electric Playground
- Tommy Tallarico - host of Judgement Day and Electric Playground
- Xavier Woods - on-air talent (2021-)
- Ovilee May - host of The BLEEP Esports Show
- Froskurinn - host of The BLEEP Esports Show
- Alex 'Goldenboy' Mendez - on-air talent (2021-)
- Kassem G - on-air talent (2021-)
- Code Miko - on-air talent (2021-)
- Gina Darling - on-air talent (2021-)
- The Completionist - on-air talent (2021-)
- Will Neff - on-air talent (2021-)
Original programming produced by, and aired on, G4TV include:
- American Ninja Warrior — Originally, American Ninja Challenge
- Attack of the Show!
- The BLEEP Esports Show
- Code Monkeys
- D&D Live
- Judgement Day
- Kitboga (upcoming, an animated version of scambaiting calls)
- The Screen Savers
- Spaceballs: The Animated Series
- Web Soup