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G4
G4
G4
Launched April 24, 2002
Closed December 31, 2012
Owned by G4 Media (Comcast)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Slogan TV 4 Gamers
VideoGame TV
TV That's Plugged In
Country United States
Language English
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Formerly called G4techTV
Tech TV
ZDTV
Sister channel(s) G4 Canada
E!
Style Network
Golf Channel
Versus
Comcast SportsNet
Website http://www.g4tv.com
Availability
Satellite
DirecTV Channel 310
Channel 1310 (VOD)
Dish Network Channel 191
Cable
Available on many cable systems Check local listings for channels
Verizon FiOS 191
IPTV
AT&T U-Verse 149 (SD)
1149 (HD)

G4 Media, Inc. is the parent company of G4, a 24-hour cable and satellite television channel originally dedicated to video games. Comcast holds a controlling interest in G4 Media, with EchoStar Communications Corporation holding a minority interest of approximately 12%. G4 is home to the American broadcasts of SASUKE (as Ninja Warrior), and KUNOICHI (as Women of Ninja Warrior).

G4 (TV Channel)

G4, also known as G4 TV, is an American cable and satellite television channel originally geared toward male viewers aged 12–28, devoted to the world of video games. More recently, the channel has diverted its focus to general interest programming that targets male viewers aged 17–36, although video games are still represented by the channel. G4 launched on April 24, 2002.[1] It is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and owned by G4 Media, a division of Comcast.[2] After 10 years of declining ratings, Comcast re-branded G4 as the Esquire Channel, starting January 1, 2013.[3]

Early days

G4 was created by Comcast and Insight Communications and launched on April 24 2002. [4] The initial concept was to create a service similar to TechTV but "geared more toward MTV's demographics". The network was launched with 13 original series, however, during the first few weeks of airing, on Comcast Digital Cable, the game Pong was shown. It featured the screen of a Pong board, with a game being played out. This was repeated until the channel's first shows premiered.

The launch shows[5] consisted of Arena (a digital sports-highlight game show), Filter (a Top-Ten countdown voted by viewers), Blister (focused on action/adventure game news), Cinematech (described as a showcase for the best high-end digital art), Sweat (focused on sports game news). Cheat! (tips on games), Portal (focused on multiplayer online games), Pulse (news on the gaming industry), Judgment Day (currently known as Reviews on the Run, "two video-game gurus will opine on the latest entries") and G4tv.com (an interactive talk show on video games). Building on the theme of the channel, shows such as Players and Icons were added. Players focused mainly on celebrities' choices on video games, consoles, and showing off their custom personal computers. Icons focused mainly on developers, gaming publishers, and famous franchises in the industry such as Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Everquest, Valve Software, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Will Wright. To further reinforce the gaming culture and community, reruns of an arcade based game show from the 1980s known as Starcade were included in the daily rotation.

G4 was originally led by Charles Hirschhorn, [6] a former president of Walt Disney Television and Walt Disney Television Animation. He expected video game creators themselves to eventually produce programming for the network. He envisioned that G4 could follow in the footsteps of MTV which in his opinion provided music video producers with a venue for non-traditional television programming.[7] Hirschhorn intended G4 to become a vehicle for unconventional advertising. In 2002, G4 offered advertisers wide latitude to place their products on G4's programs, and even allowing their commercials to appear as if they're a part of the program. G4 also offered what was called a "2 minute unit" which was an advertising package played as if it were part of a G4 program that was long enough to run an entire movie trailer. G4 also offered to sell the right to have a game showcased on the show "Pulse".

TechTV acquisition

On March 25, 2004, Vulcan Inc. (formally Vulcan Ventures) sold TechTV to G4 Media (owned primarily by Comcast), which then merged both channels to soon become G4TechTV. [8] The original TechTV production facilities located in San Francisco, CA would be closed and the new network would be located in Los Angeles, CA. Charles Hirschhorn of G4 was put in charge of the combined entity. Reaction to this news left many fans of both channels strong feelings of displeasure and hostility, seeing the removal of almost all the original shows from both G4 and predominantly TechTV, and the immediate firing of many employees (including the spontaneous termination of most/all original TechTV employees and hosts). The relocation of a technology/video gaming network away from the San Francisco area (where a large portion of game/tech development takes place) also seemed very foolish to many. On February 15, 2005, less than a year after the merger, TechTV was officially dropped from the channel's name in the U.S. completely, and is now known only as G4. [9] However, on the network's affiliate in Canada, the TechTV name remained until mid 2009, when the channel was renamed G4 Canada.

Format

In September of 2005, former DirecTV executive Neal Tiles[10] had replaced G4 founder Charles Hirschhorn as the channel's CEO. Also reported was a managerial decision to decrease G4's emphasis on video game coverage, in favor of a shift toward a male general interest programming format. Its website address in lieu of the slogan "Videogame TV" was introduced and gradually replaced the existing logo over the next few months. Variety.com reported, "Now, under the aegis of Comcast and new president Neal Tiles, G4 is evolving into a lifestyle channel, peppered with videogame culture, as opposed to wall-to-wall games." "We're going through a change. Guys like to play games, but not necessarily watch a bunch of shows with games on the screen," Tiles says. "So what we're doing now is expanding G4 from a network solely defined by videogames to one inspired by them."[11] In addition to its programming, G4, along with Earth911 recently launched an electronic waste recycling campaign called Gcycle.[12]

In June 2008, G4 launched G4 Rewind. This block showed older episodes of X-Play, Judgment Day, Cheat, G4tv.com, Arena, Portal, G4's Training Camp and GameMakers. G4 Rewind was eventually dropped due to the inability of the dated gaming content to attract significant ratings,[13] however G4 Rewind appears in Daytime reruns for older episodes of X-Play. In May of 2009 G4's website was completely redesigned with a more prominent role of gaming as the intended purpose. The website is currently in phase 1 of its "beta" form with 2 other phases coming. [14] Since the redesign of the website, G4's blog, TheFeed, has been overhauled as well.[15] On July 31 a new web video game discussion series, TheFeed: Nightcap debuted. [16] On August 28, 2009 TheFeed Nightcap debuted as Feedback. [17]

Consolidation

Comcast, the parent company of both G4 and E! television channels, announced on October 12, 2006, that it would consolidate its west coast entertainment operations, including G4, E! and Style into a new group headed by Ted Harbert, who had formerly run the E! Network. It was announced that the upper management of the G4 network would relocate to the E! Network's LA office. [18] On March 4, 2007, it was announced that the G4 Studios in Santa Monica would close on April 15. Production of G4 programs was relocated to the Studios of the E! Television Network elsewhere in the Los Angeles area. As a consequence, there many G4 employees involved in production were laid off. The sets of G4's original programs were also redesigned to fit within the new smaller spaces allocated to them.

Harbert gave his opinion at the time that the focus of the channel on "gaming has been demonstrated as being too narrow." He also gave assurances that while G4 might change, it would not become extinct.[19] [20] Design Studios Onesize and yU+Co teamed up to rebrand the G4 network as part of the transition.[21]

Layoffs and cut-backs

On February 17, 2009, it was reported that G4 intended to cut back its original content programming. X-Play would be reduced to three nights a week while Attack of the Show! would be cut to four nights a week. Consequently, a number of the staff and production crew involved in the shows would be laid off. Neal Tiles announced that Layla Kayleigh's contract will not be renewed and in April, she left G4.[22] [23]

Criticism

The numerous changes to the network's programming brought on a storm of criticism from longtime TechTV/G4 fans across the internet, many claiming that the channel has strayed too far from its gaming and technology roots, and accuse the channel of solely relying on shows like X-Play and Attack of the Show!. With most of the remaining G4 original shows having been severely altered, many saw this as G4's ongoing attempt to be a competitor to other male-oriented networks such as Spike,[24][25] thus losing any unique identity.[26] G4 and Spike no longer share the cable/satellite television syndication rights to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The merger and the attempt at male-oriented appeal[27] caused negative reaction on the fanbase's end.

G4 HD

G4 HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of G4 that launched on December 8, 2008. Currently, no original shows are shot in full 16:9 HD, they are instead upconverted and presented in 4:3 aspect ratio. However, G4 President Neal Tiles recently said on his official site Open Source that some shows will be shot in native HD by the end of 2009. [28] The AT&T U-verse system carries the channel in HD. [29]Cablevision began carrying the channel on June 29, 2009.[30]

G4 hosts

  • Adam Sessler (co-host of X-Play, editor-in-chief of games content)
  • Morgan Webb (co-host of X-Play and G4 Underground)
  • Kristin Adams (née Holt; host of Cheat!, both a G4 series and a segment on X-Play & primary anchor of "The Feed" on Attack of the Show!)
  • Blair Herter (correspondent on X-Play and anchor of "The Feed" on Attack of the Show!, nicknamed 'Man-Blair' American Ninja Warrior host)
  • Kevin Pereira (co-host of Attack of the Show!)
  • Olivia Munn (co-host of Attack of the Show!)
  • Chris Gore (movie correspondent and presents "DVDuesday" on Attack of the Show!)
  • Blair Butler (comic book correspondent and presents "Fresh Ink" on Attack of the Show!)
  • Chris Hardwick (Hosts Web Soup, and serves as a technology correspondent and usually presents "Gadget Pr0n" on Attack of the Show!)
  • Anna David (sex columnist and presents "In Your Pants" on Attack of the Show!)
  • Alison Haislip (correspondent & secondary anchor of "The Feed" on Attack of the Show! American Ninja Warrior host)
  • Casey Schreiner (correspondent on X-Play, host of the MMO Report)

References

  1. G4 Aims Originals at Video Game Fans, Multichannel New 4/14/2002
  2. About G4
  3. G4 to become the Esquire Channel, stars comment on show cancellations, The Examiner 12/10/2012
  4. 24-hour video game channel set to launch, CNN.com April 24, 2002
  5. G4 Network Announces All-Original Programming Slate; Thirteen Original Weekly Series Featuring Everything for Gamers., Goliath 09-APR-02
  6. Charles Hirschhorn, Forbes.com
  7. Pressing Buttons 10.17.06: The Rise and Fall of G4 [PART 1], 411mania.com 0.17.2006
  8. Comcast buys TechTV, San Francisco Chronicle March 26, 2004
  9. G4 Drops TechTV Handle, Broadcasting & Cable 1/10/2005
  10. G4 - About - Management - Neal Tiles - President
  11. G4 evolving into a lifestyle channel, peppered with vidgame culture,Variety DENISE MARTIN May 8, 2006
  12. Earth Day Roundup: Not Lame, We Promise,Gizmodo Mark Wilson Apr 22 2007
  13. Open Source Neal Tiles
  14. Open Source - May 2009
  15. Welcome To An All-New, All-Different Version Of G4tv.com's TheFeed! TheFeed Posted July 9, 2009 - By Raymond Padilla
  16. TheFeed Nightcap, July 31st -- The Pilot Episode! TheFeed Posted July 31, 2009 - By Andrew Pfister
  17. G4 Video - G4tv.com's Feedback
  18. Comcast Broadens Harbert's Role, Broadcasting & Cable, 10/12/2006
  19. E! pwns G4, Boing Boing OCTOBER 12, 2006
  20. G4 Not Getting Axed, Voodoo Extreme, Oct 16, 2006
  21. Design Studios Onesize and yU+Co Team Up To Rebrand G4 Network, Broadcast Newsroom, June 20, 2007
  22. G4's "Open Source", March 2, 2009
  23. G4's "X-Play", "Attack of the Show" Cut Back, Variety, February 17, 2009
  24. McDuffee, Keith (2005–09–27). "Coming to G4: The Man Show? Update June 1, 2008. G4 TV will be re-showing classic G4 shows such as Portal and other on their schedule starting June 2, 2008". TV Squad. http://www.tvsquad.com/2005/09/27/coming-to-g4-the-man-show/. Retrieved 2007–08–08. 
  25. Richey, Joshua. The Rise and Fall of G4 (Part 3). 411mania.com. November 2, 2006.
  26. Richey, Joshua. The Rise and Fall of G4 (Part 4). 411mania.com. November 8, 2006.
  27. G4 network tries a new game plan to get more guys
  28. G4TV Open Source - Q & A for Neal Tiles
  29. AT&T U-verse HD Channels
  30. "HDTV channels". http://optimum.com/io/hdtv/hdtv_channels.jsp. 

External links


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