The End of G4 and the Call for Quality

After months of a slow death, we have finally come to the end of the TV network: G4. With their two remaining original programming: X-Play and Attack of the Show having their series finale. It’s a bittersweet good bye for many, as like most people I remember when it was called Tech TV and a great network for games and tech news.

While I’ve long since gotten over the death of Tech TV, the recent announcement of G4’s transition to “Esquire Channel” has me annoyed about the reasons leading to this change.


Dying a Slow Death:

In a recent interview about the end of G4, the person who oversees all of NBCUniversal’s programming made this comment about G4:

“Realistically, guys who are into gaming are not necessarily watching television. If this was going to come under my portfolio, I’m a little brand crazy, so I said, let’s create a real brand, define a space, understand who we are programming for.”

– Bonnie Hammer, NBCUniversal

To me this reeks of ignorance and network speak. For anyone who watched G4 for the last year at all, if you believed that they were doing their best to keep the network going, well I have a few bridges to sell you.

For a network that was originally founded to discuss technology and the game industry, G4 reached the point where only an hour and a half a day had actual original programming. The rest seem to come from digging into NBC’s vault for random shows to air.

Now, running old shows isn’t a bad thing, if they had some kind of appeal to the audience. At one point, G4 had an anime block at midnight similar to Toonami on Adult Swim, as most gamers do have an interest in anime. G4 removed that for four to five hour marathons of Cops and Cheaters.

But even before that, the execs at G4 were slowly but surely peeling away at G4’s appeal. As there was the first rebranding to make the channel all about cars and women, or a second Spike TV. They even cancelled one of my favorite shows: Call for Help, which I cannot believe was due to costing too much to make.

I can’t even remember the last time they actually created a new show that was even related to technology or games. Now some people have complained that the Sci-Fi channel (no, I’m not spelling it the other way,) has had similar problems with a focus on reality TV, B-Movies and wrestling. But at least they’re creating original content to show on the network.

That takes me to the other problem with this “wise move”: That they couldn’t create original programming for a TV network about the Game Industry.

Josh’s Game Network:

To say that they couldn’t figure out a way to fill a programming block with shows about the game industry is BS. The industry has grown by leaps and bounds since Tech TV first came on to the air: F2P games, mobile, and the rise of playing games professionally. Even content about game development and design would be interesting to watch.


G4’s transition to Esquire means that it’s game related programming shrinks down to 0.

Trying to blame the lack of viewers on the notion that gamers don’t watch TV is bogus.

Gamers don’t watch shows that have nothing to do with technology or the game industry, or shows aimed at “bro culture.”

With what would have to be the culmination of this, was the re-airing of The Man Show.

Now no one is saying that there should be original programming on every day of the week, as there just isn’t a way to put out quality that way. This incidentally is one of the reasons fans cite as the decline of X-Play, which was arguably the most popular show on G4.

That’s why it’s ok to have other shows on. I loved catching re-runs of The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside when they were running them on Sci-Fi. Thinking about cost, outside of a production staff and on air personalities, there shouldn’t be a huge cost of developing programming. Hopefully it should be less then what they spend on the special effects on a Sci-Fi original movie.

The only point I agree with from the interview was about creating a brand and sticking with it. Not every network is going to have the numbers of Fox or NBC, and trying to make yours as mass appeal as possible doesn’t work. This is an interesting parallel to mainstream game design with publishers trying to do the same thing.

If we can have the Velocity network – which is aimed around cars be successful, then we can certainly have a network about games and technology.

Hell, I bet Ken and I could put together a 30 minute a week show on the video game industry, better and more informative then what G4 became. Although I don’t know how we would get corporate sponsoring as I don’t eat Doritos or drink Mountain Dew…

  • Grandy Peace

    Basically the only thing they were doing right, outside of those two shows, was those Saturday movie marathons “Movies that don’t suck”, even giving it a little touch of grindhouse/cheesy 80s-ness. They would play the sorts of movies your basic geek (such as he exists) might be into, and no doubt many of them were into. Ghostbusters, Big Trouble in Little China, or a Bruce Lee movie to name a few examples. I switched cabled providers a month ago; between that and my fall programming interrupt (I’m a big college football fan) I drifted away from that G4 selection a bit. I don’t know if they had abandoned the concept or what.

    I think Tech TV would work based on a lineup of original programming, some targeted movie showing, and marathons every now and again. Don’t tell me G4 couldn’t have come up with The Talking Dead (for example). Or Comic Book Guys. NBC gave up on it because they didn’t understand it.

    Too bad.

    • “Don’t tell me G4 couldn’t have come up with The Talking Dead (for example). Or Comic Book Guys. NBC gave up on it because they didn’t understand it.”

      Agreed. I can’t believe that an original show about video games or the industry would cost anywhere near the amount of the shows they created during their spike tv era. Like flying around the world looking at the latest cars and such.

  • Grandy Peace

    I thought the one thing G4 was doing right was the “Movies that Don’t Suck” (which had a nice touch of grindhouse/drive in to it) on Saturdays. Those movie blocks were pretty good for a long time. That’s precisely the sort of thing they needed to be doing; part original programming, part targeted movies. Part [pick a marathon]. Don’t tell me that in a different world they couuldn’t have easily and cheapily had Hardwick doing Talking Dead there. Or something like Comic Book Guys. G4 failed because NBC didn’t know what to do with it.