Last month news broke that according to an internal memo video game and geek centric television network G4 TV was shutting down “effectively immediately”. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter and Giant Freaking Robot, Dave Scott, the CEO of G4’s parent company Comcast Spectator, apparently issued the memo. The memo stated that the reasons for the shutdown to be low viewership, and that the network was unable to achieve “sustainable financial results”. Mr. Scott was not kidding, and just a couple weeks after the announcement, G4 is no more. The channel is off air, an their website is only a static page with a graphic saying “We never stopped playing”
A little history of G4 TV
G4 TV originally went on air in 2002 as a 24-hour cable network dedicated to gaming. At a time where online alternatives were scant, G4 achieved some popularity. At the time, the only other channel with 24-hour tech programing was TechTV, and only a small portion of that was gaming related. In 2004, G4 Media acquired TechTV and combined the channels, which rebranded as G4TechTV. The tagline for the network was “games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes”, and many programs and personalities from both networks coexisted over the next year.
“A digital platinum-plus cable network destined for foreclosure”– Martin Sargent on the final episode of Unscrewed
By 2005 most of the Tech TV programming was cancelled and many personalities were unceremoniously fired, with many caught off guard. Some personalities even spoke out on-air to various degrees. After this, G4 rebranded, or more frankly, devolved, into a more generalized “male-orientated” network. The rebranded network still maintained a lot of “nerdy” content, but with more pop-culture emphasis. By 2014 the network had cancelled all of its original programming, and aired mostly syndicated content. G4 ended up shuttering that year.
The news of the closure comes as no no surprise to me. There is just entirely too much competition from online platforms. Actually, I’ve never even watched the new G4. I was a devout TechTV fan, and watched quite a bit of the early G4, and later G4TechTV. I am not, however, into the who pop culture thing. I’m also not likely their target demographic, as they are likely aiming at the under 30 crowd. I’m sure there were a substantial number of folks who did watch G4, and loved it. I feel for them and for all of the hard working staff and talent many of whom may now be unemployed.
The sad fact is though, running a television network costs a ton of money, and this one wasn’t making enough, apparently. Companies like Comcast aren’t in this game for the viewers, they are in this to make money. To a corporation like that, this was just dead weight. I wish there was a market for a pure tech/gaming channel, but there is not. What there is, though, is tons of high quality content available via online platforms. Producers like Hak5, TWIT, Youtubers, Twitch(ers?), and so many others produce so much quality content in this sphere. Maybe there will be a third incarnation of G4, or something similar. Or maybe not, either way there’s plenty else to watch.