EXCLUSIVE: Comcast’s Spectacor division is unplugging the video game-centric network G4 TV, whose first incarnation in the 2000s remains a cultural touchstone for many millennials, just a year after its relaunch.
In a memo that was to be sent to all employees, Spectacor CEO Dave Scott explained that the company’s investment and efforts to relaunch the network simply hadn’t gained traction.
A few dozen employees and contractors are affected by the closure. Comcast said it would help them move around and consider some of them for internal opportunities.
The departure over the summer of Russell Arons, a seasoned digital media executive who had come on board as chairman of G4 in 2021, was a precursor to today’s news. His duties have been added to the portfolio of Joe Marsh, a Comcast Spectacor veteran who served as CEO of T1, an international esports joint venture with Korea’s SK Telecom.
The current iteration of G4 is smaller and less focused on traditional linear TV than its predecessor was. He announced a lineup slate featuring a revived version of the original G4 mainstays Attack of the show! and xplaymore comedy BoostedJapanese Contest Series ninja warrioresports competitions and Dungeons & Dragons limited series.
In addition to putting content on YouTube and social media, G4 has a multi-year deal with Twitch and pay-TV distribution deals with Verizon FiOS, Cox, Xfinity TV and Philo.
Several media and tech companies focused on the gaming community have experienced turbulence recently, with Facebook shutting down its gaming app and Google shutting down gaming service Stadia. VENN, a start-up presented as the “MTV of video games”, has also just gone bankrupt.
G4’s initial run began in 2002 under co-owners NBCUniversal and Dish Network. The network was created by former Disney TV executive Charles Hirschhorn, who saw it as a successor to MTV in its potential to tap into youth culture. A number of notable figures appeared as hosts on G4 early on, including Olivia Munn, Chris Hardwick, Kevin Pereira and Grace Helbig.
After dark in 2014, G4’s place on the dial was taken over by the Esquire network, which turned out to be a short-lived branding exercise. Amid a flurry of excitement on social media, new owner Comcast Spectacor revealed plans during Virtual Comic-Con 2020 for the network’s return.
Spectacor’s core business is focused on sports and live events, with the division owning the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and their home arena, the Wells Fargo Center, along with numerous other assets. G4’s results were never particularly important to Spectacor, but the division eagerly pursued esports, making reviving G4 a logical thing to try.
Here’s Scott’s full memo, which Deadline obtained from a source:
As you know, G4 was reintroduced last year to take advantage of the popularity of
game. We invested to create the new G4 as an online and TV destination for fans
to be entertained, inspired and connect with gaming content.
Over the past few months, we’ve worked hard to generate that interest in the G4, but
the audience is low and the network has not reached a sustainable financial level
results. This is certainly not what we were hoping for and therefore we did the
very difficult decision to stop the operations of G4, with immediate effect.
I know this is disappointing news, and I’m disappointed too. I want to thank you
and all members of the G4 team for their hard work and commitment to the network.
Our human resources team contacts you to support you,
discuss other opportunities that may be available and answer any questions you
can I have.
Thanks again for all your hard work for G4.
President and CEO