exclusive: Comcast’s Spectacor division is shutting down video game-focused network G4 TV, whose early 2000s incarnation remains a cultural touchstone for many millennials, just a year after its relaunch.
In a note to be sent to all employees, Spectacor CEO Dave Scott explained that the company’s investment and efforts to revive the network have not gained traction.
A few dozen employees and contract workers have been affected by the shutdown. Comcast said it will help them with the external placement and is considering some internal opportunities.
The departure over the summer of Russell Arrons, a seasoned digital media executive who was on board as G4 president in 2021, was a precursor to today’s news. Her duties were added to the portfolio of Joe Marsh, a veterinarian at Comcast Spectacor who was CEO of T1, an esports joint venture with Korea’s SK Telecom.
The current iteration of the G4 is smaller and less focused on traditional linear TV than its predecessor. It has announced a programming slate including a revived version of the original G4 mainstays Show attack! And the XplayIn addition to comedy, boostJapanese competition series ninja warriorand esports competitions and Dungeons & Dragons Limited Series.
Besides placing content on YouTube and social media, G4 has a multi-year agreement with Twitch and pay-TV distribution deals with Verizon FiOS, Cox, Xfinity TV, and Philo.
Several media and tech projects focused on the gaming community have been in turmoil lately, with Facebook shutting down its gaming app and Google canceling its Stadia gaming service. VENN, a startup described as the “MTV of video games,” has gone bankrupt.
The initial operation of G4 began in 2002 under the ownership of NBCUniversal and Dish Network. The network was created by Charles Hirschhorn, a former CEO of Disney Television, who saw it as a successor to MTV in its ability to tap into youth culture. A number of notable people appeared as hosts on G4 early on, including Olivia Munn, Chris Hardwicke, Kevin Pereira and Grace Helbig.
After going dark in 2014, Esquire Network took over the G4’s place on the dial, which will prove to be a short-term exercise for the brand. Amid a flurry of excitement on social media, new owner Comcast Spectacor has revealed plans at Comic-Con’s 2020 virtual release for the network’s return.
Spectacor’s primary business focus is on sporting events and live events, with the division owning the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL hockey team as well as their home arena, Wells Fargo Center, among many other assets. G4’s results weren’t particularly material for Spectacor, but the division pursued esports with passion, which made the G4 revival a logical thing to try.
Here’s Scott’s full note, which we got Deadline from the source:
As you know, the G4 was reintroduced last year to capitalize on the popularity
the games. We have invested to create the new G4 as an online and TV destination for the masses
To entertain, inspire and connect with gaming content.
Over the past several months, we’ve worked hard to generate this interest in the G4, but
Viewership is low and the network is not financially sustainable
Results. This is definitely not what we had hoped for, and as a result, we did a job
A very difficult decision to discontinue G4 operations, effective immediately.
I know this is disappointing news, and I am also disappointed. I want to thank you
And everyone on the G4 team for hard work and commitment to the network.
Our HR team is in touch with you to support you,
Discuss other opportunities that may be available, and answer any questions you have
Thank you again for your hard work for the G4.
Chairman and CEO of the company
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