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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.

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The Fall of G4TV, Part 3 January 12, 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 a third part 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.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s start from the beginning.

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.

I understand that it has been a while since I posted an article in this series on my site, so I would like to take this opportunity to direct any new readers or to both of the earlier parts of this series.  To fully understand how disappointed I am with this development, you should read Part 1, which details the station’s best years from its launch to it’s merger with Tech TV, and Part 2, which details the station’s downfall, after corporate meddling nearly destroyed it.

By the time of the year 2011, the majority of the content G4 ran on a regular basis was syndicated reruns from shows like Cops or Cheaters.  G4 was only airing two shows which they were producing new episodes for a regular basis, and both of the shows were never part of the station’s initial lineup.  X Play, the game review show which they acquired when they merged with Tech TV, and Attack of the Show, which was a renamed version of The Screen Savers, another carry over from the Tech TV merger.  Sadly, both of the shows weren’t doing as well as they could have been.  While audiences enjoyed the personalities of the show’s hosts, the writing at the time was not wining any awards with the viewers.  In fact, it was borderline incompetent.  I can think of a few game reviews that aired which made glaring errors like X Play’s review of Metroid: Other M which had a complaint that there was no way to dodge incoming projectiles when in fact there was in fact a dodge move in the game.  There were other bad reviews which just came down to a matter of taste, like their Duke Nukem Forever review which gave the game a 1 out of 5 simply because of the game’s offensive content.  While the review’s writer may have truly been offended by game’s subject matter, the review came off more as a childish lashing out against a game which had been in development for so long, not as a professional review on the game itself.  Although to be honest, I felt most game reviewers were unfair to this game. In fact, even Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem himself, made a mention of this during my interview with him at ConnectiCon 2013, although he didn’t mention any reviewers in particular.  So as you can tell, by this point, I wasn’t watching G4 any more for its gaming content, as I felt that it no longer had any standards for which I could relate to.

But it’s unfair to say that X Play and Attack of the Show were G4’s only shows.  For a few years, they were experimenting with different show ideas every couple of months, but they were mostly hit or miss.  Sadly, most of them had nothing to do with gaming (which is odd for a gaming focused TV station), but not all of them were bad.  Jump City Seattle was a freerunning athletic competition where athletes from all over the world showed off their skills.  It had nothing to do with gaming but it was a well produced show where you could see athletes like Brian “nosole” Orosco and his mustache do some fantastic moves that defied what we thought was possible with the human body.  Web Soup was basically the show Ridiculousness with a host that wasn’t as funny as Rob Dyrdek.  It’s Effin’ Science showed how science could be used in cool ways, and tossed in a few explosions for good measure.

While not all of these shows were winners, I found a lot of them enjoyable.  G4 was also experimenting with airing different syndicated content, and instead of showing just episodes of Cops and Cheaters, they started showing some classic science-fiction shows including one of the greatest shows ever produced, Quantum Leap.  I was too young to enjoy the show when it was new, but by the time it came to G4, I couldn’t stop watching it.

Things weren’t perfect, but for the first time I started to be optimistic that G4 could improve.  Things at G4 were starting to look up, but little did we all know that by the time the station hit its stride, it was doomed.  Stay tuned to this site for Part 4 of this article, where I’m going to detail the end of G4, just as it had started to get good again.

The Fall of G4TV, Part 2 September 26, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Histories, The Fall of G4.
3 comments

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

It was 2004 and a corporate merger was coming to G4, Comcast intended to buy the station out and merge it with another of their stations, Tech TV, to maximize profits. Now, obviously since Comcast bought two stations which covered subjects the new suits knew absolutely nothing about and which in reality had very little in common, by forcing them together the outcome was going to be bad, REALLY bad.

During the merger, all of the shows from both of the stations were now fair game for cancellation. Ratings were not even factored into the decision, and no show was left untouched. If it wasn’t cancelled immediately, it was changed. If it wasn’t changed it was recast. It was a complete shakedown and no one was safe from it.

The host of Cheat changed from a competent yet nerdy guy to a supermodel in a miniskirt who looked more at ease doing weather for football games. The 2001-esque MMO show would not be renewed. G4TV.com, G4’s staple show, would eventually get cancelled, as would the majority of G4’s prime programming including Arena, Pulse, and Cinematech. Icons shifted from covering gaming company histories to biographies of people who had nothing to do with gaming like Mark Eko. But no show would get it as bad as Tech TV’s The Screen Savers which got its focus shifted, then completely recast by incompetent people who had no tech intelligence, then cancelled. It is now called “Attack of the Show”, and has changed its focus more times than I can count.

Not too long after the rebranding or cancellation of a lot of the shows their fans loved, the dedicated fans of the station stopped watching. I’m sure that corporate assumed that new people would start watching the station, but of course they didn’t. Instead of restoring the shows to their former glory to bring the old fans back, the shows instead were terminated from the lineups, not even showing reruns anymore. It became a systematic glassing of the station, leaving a massive scar in the form of a G which would not go away because the shows never came back.

About the only survivors of the complete glassing of the station’s shows was Tech TV’s X-Play (not a terrible show but it’s disappointing that was the only show they kept) which was now expanded to cover more than just gaming reviews but also gaming news and previews. The former glory of an entire station which previously was covered by an entire lineup of shows was basically crammed into one show which only aired twice a day. The other survivor was Kevin Pereira who was promoted to host what idiot writers assumed was geek culture.

Nowadays G4 is just another channel I flick past. With no more decent original programming anymore, there’s just no reason to watch it. Occasionally there’s a glimmer of the station that it once was when you see live E3 coverage once a year, and you get the briefest reminder that this used to be a station that gamers watched. The G in G4 is supposed to mean TV for Gamers, not syndicated reruns of shows only enjoyed by lowest common denominator.

The Fall of G4TV, Part 1 September 26, 2010

Posted by Maniac in Histories, The Fall of G4.
3 comments

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.

When the station was first designed they had a lineup of entirely original shows based upon each individual gaming archetype.  Trust me, any gamer could easily find something on the schedule that they liked to watch.  Icons focused on the history of video game companies or major events like the crash of 1982 (their finest episode).  Cheat gave tips and pointers to recent games, sometimes focusing on one game in particular.  Arena, which took two teams of players and had them battle in Mechwarrior  on a LAN, (although their rules were pretty terrible and there were other games than Mechwarrior they could’ve played). There was a news show which had the latest gaming news of the day.  Judgment Day, a review show which introduced the world to Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas.  For video connoisseurs there was Cinematech, which had the latest trailers and opening cinematics for games. There was an MMO show with a 2001 vibe and very MST3K humor whose name I cannot remember.  Then of course there was the televised talk radio show G4TV.com, which was one of the best shows in existence starring gaming writers Tina Wood and Laura Foy.

It was a great time.  I can name tons of people who want to see their original series released to DVD.  I missed about 80 percent of its heyday because my parents refused to upgrade to digital cable due to the technical limitations at the time, but when high-speed internet was finally made available in my area three years after everyone else could get it, at that point they had no choice because I got them a really good price.  Once we got it installed I would not change the channel.

The great time was not to last and a dark time was on the horizon for the station in the form of a corporate merger, and I’ll talk about all of that in Part 2.  Stay tuned!