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The Fall of G4TV, Part 4 January 17, 2014

Posted by Maniac in Histories, The Fall of G4.
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After discovering that Hearst was no longer interested with turning G4 into the Esquire Network, I seriously thought I would never have to revisit this article and create further parts of this series.  I figured this meant that Hearst was interested in breathing new life into a station that they had shut down, and was optimistic about the future for the station.  Today I just noticed that my cable provider has dropped the G4 channel from my channel lineup without informing me of it.  To quote Doc Brown, “What kind of a future do you call that?”  Given the fact that I’m paying hundreds of dollars a month for HD Cable TV, my provider terminating access to the G4 channel without informing me about it ahead of time was a pretty underhanded trick.  They severed my connection to a channel that had meant so much to me just as I was hoping things would be getting better with it.

If you look in your digital channel lineup you can find a little station on the list somewhere between MTV2 and Encore called G4 or G4TV. You’ll also note that the schedule for that station will likely only include reruns of Cops and Cheaters.  If I told you, and you didn’t know any better, you probably wouldn’t believe that station used to be the premiere station for gaming coverage.  You’ll probably also wonder if they were a station for gaming coverage why do they only show reruns of Cops and Cheaters, as well as a few other international shows nobody cares about.  Well, it’s a story that goes back a long time, but I have no problem telling you it.  It’s a sad story with a very sad ending, but just like with Halo Reach, even though you know how it ends from the beginning, it’s still a story you want to hear.

You can read the previous parts of this article here.

No matter how bad G4 got over the years, if there was one reason to watch the station it was for their E3 coverage.  G4 would not only air the official E3 Press Events, they would get their teams together to analyze all of the major announcements after they were made.  Even when the station was bad, you could always rely on their E3 coverage to be consistent.  By broadcasting E3 press events and doing a decent analysis of all the new content, it gave people who was unable to attend gaming’s Super Bowl in person a virtual seat at the events and saved them from the inconvenience of having to stream the broadcasts online.  For at least one week a year, I was watching G4 non stop.

By 2012, G4 was improving. A great show, G4’s Proving Ground, hit the air. Featuring the late Ryan Dunn and former IGN hottie Jessica Chobot, the two hosts spent each episode trying to replicate the gadgets and technology seen in famous movies or video games. That’s right, Proving Ground actually covered video games, and the chemistry between the hosts made for a great show! Heck, even the writing staff for X Play and Attack of the Show would be better by 2012, and I found myself watching the station again.

But then something weird happened. All of a sudden, G4 was losing its primary talent.  Both Kevin Perrara and Adam Sessler would leave their respective shows.  While they were quickly replaced by other G4 talent, it seemed curious that they would leave the shows they had been on for so long.  It wouldn’t take us long to find out why.  It turned out that G4 was now owned by the Hearst Corporation and as G4 had been underperforming for years they were planning to end it.  That’s right, they actually took the advice I gave them years earlier, when I told them to either bring back their old shows or they may as well just shut down. Well, sadly, they chose the latter. The channel was going to be completely replaced by a new channel, the Esquire Network, and an entirely new lineup of shows started production. A lot of people online completely failed to understand Hearst’s reason to do this. While G4 was indeed underperforming, it was because they were not offering a consistent lineup of quality gaming programs. Had they decided to use the resources that went into creating the Esquire Network lineup and instead focused on making a new lineup of G4 shows, likely the dedicated fans of the show who hadn’t watched the station since the Tech TV merger would have returned. It’s not like any other gaming focused stations like G4 existed. Did they honestly think the channel’s target demographic would have been more interested in watching Esquire’s content?

The final episodes of X Play and Attack of the Show aired in January 2013. The staff was let go, and no further production was put into place as an entire station’s worth of new content was being created for the Esquire Network for when it was planned to launch. By February 2013, G4 was only broadcasting reruns of X Play on top of their syndicated content like Heroes and Quantum Leap.  The station was practically on automatic play mode.  However, this wasn’t exactly a bad thing. The last few months of X Play included some of the finest episodes they had ever produced, and while they were being replayed on a regular basis, I found myself watching them all I could. On top of that, G4 was reairing all of the content they had experimented with since the Tech TV merger, like Proving Ground, It’s ‘Effin Science, and Web Soup. While none of these shows saw new episodes past their initial run, airing all these programs again on a regular basis made for an interesting offering of consistent content, something G4 hadn’t offered in nearly ten years.

The Esquire Network was coming, but it was sure taking its time getting here. At first the station was expected to launch some time in spring. Then it was pushed back to the summer. American Ninja Warrior, a show which intended to broadcast its latest season after G4 had become Esquire Network, instead was broadcast as the station was still G4 branded and G4’s ratings reaped the benefits.

By the end of the summer, after being pushed back many times, the Esquire Network had finally set launch date.  However, a few days before the station was expected to launch, an odd mention of the network made its way into the tabloids.  The article read that Hearst was no longer interested in replacing G4 with the Esquire Network, and even though they still planned to launch Esquire, it would be on top of another more fitting station, the Style Network, which as far as I knew only served to rebroadcast old E! Network shows.  When Esquire did launch, the Style Network became no more, and G4 stayed in my channel lineup.  Even though the station was still only broadcasting the same content they had been for nearly a year, now I had a little hope left in my heart that G4 would return better than ever.

Apparently, all Hearst did was prolong the channel’s demise, the Television Providers became the ones to end it.  Last week, very quietly and without ever notifying me of their plans, my cable provider, Comcast Xfinity, terminated the station from my channel lineup.  Quite a dirty trick, as my bill hasn’t gotten any lighter.  The most ironic part of this is the fact that it was Comcast’s meddling with the station back in 2005 that would nearly destroy the network, and now that they no longer owned it the fact that they chose to discontinue broadcasting it was a fitting way for them to finally end it completely, something they were unable to do themselves.

While Comcast and a few other providers are no longer carrying G4, the station still exists and is still continuing to broadcast their syndicated content, I am just no longer able to watch it.  According to the research I’ve been doing, the only Television Provider still carrying it is AT&T U-Verse, I have no idea if this fact will get them new customers, but if this fact alone is making you want to change your provider to AT&T, please post a comment about it.  G4 during its heyday was THE reason I made my family upgrade their cable package to digital channels.

As there has been no word that there are any plans to bring new content to G4, and with all the providers dropping the station there is no reason for me to hope the station will return to its former glory any more.  Other than Spike’s terrible awards show and fantastic GameTrailers.TV show (inconveniently aired super late at night), there is really nothing else out there like G4.  Hopefully some day soon some other content provider will see the need to bring a major gaming network back to television.  Just do it well and we will watch.

I would be more than happy to tell you how.