So…your multi-million dollar reboot died in less than a year.
For the second time in the last decade and just ten months into Comcast’s (NBC Universal) attempt to revive it, G4 is officially dead, the door shut on its legacy, this time for good.
Seven weeks. That’s all the time it took for now-former Xplay host Indiana Black – aka Frosk – to blow the whole thing to bits with her now infamous rant.
In a surprise to absolutely no one, after she dismissively wrote off critics as disgusting sexists and told both current and potential audiences “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” people chose not to watch.
Now, of course, we could sit here and lay blame for the destruction of G4’s legacy on Frosk’s uttering those three simple words, “sexism in gaming”, but that wouldn’t be telling you the whole story.
Believe it or not, G4’s revival was dead on arrival years before Frosk ever opened her mouth.
And why? Because after 10 years, NBCUniversal NEVER addressed the true reason why G4 died in the first place.
Initially launched on April 24th, 2002, G4 was borne of an era when the novelty of having thousands of channels to watch was as strong a gimmick for digital cable customers as the concept of a video game-centric television channel.
A network “for gamers, by gamers” – that was G4’s original motto.
Though it had a solid enough premise, things started off less-than-smooth for G4, as the network had a significant problem with outreach.
In its early days, G4 was only available in roughly 15 million households, and at the time, Comcast’s budget was too small to allow for the company to put any significant investment into promoting the network to potential viewers.
That was where Tech TV, a digital network whose target demographic was the same as G4’s but whose content focused on technology and the internet over gaming, came in.
Tech TV had two things that G4 did not: programming and outreach.
Despite its current reputation as the missle that sunk G4’s ship, Xplay started out as one of TechTV’s flagship programs. Hosted by Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler, the show popularized the idea of on-screen video game reviews made up of equal parts humorous skits and analysis.
Perhaps its most well known show was The Screen Savers, a computer and technology-focused program hosted by Leo Laporte (whose hosting career continues to flourish to this day) which sought to help viewers with their hardware and software-related questions.
Taking notice of this disparity, on March 25th, 2004, Comcast finalized a deal to purchase TechTV from billionaire Paul Allen. Merging it together with G4 to create the short-lived G4TechTV, Comcast combined the best of both networks in an attempt to create a line-up of content that rivaled any other digital cable network in the mid-2000s.
Yet, G4TechTV’s ultimately run only lasted a little over eight months, as internal politics quickly brought the network’s aspirations crashing back down to reality.
After acquiring TechTV, G4 proceeded to fire the majority of the former’s employees from their San Francisco offices and move the entire joint operation to Los Angeles.
Not only that, but they ended up making so many cuts to TechTV’s programming that the only shows left from the network’s stand-alone run was Xplay and The Screen Savers, though the latter was rebranded into Attack of the Show.
Eventually, G4TechTV would once again become simply G4 – and it was this move that ultimately led to the channel’s downfall.
Though they had Xplay and Attack of the Show, G4 was desperate for any content that could keep audiences engaged and advertisers happy.
By 2010, G4 was creatively bankrupt.
As a result, the network took to airing more ‘variety’ type programs over gaming-specific ones, such as Ninja Warrior, Cheaters, and a handful of random Japanese game shows.
Unsurprisingly, offering only two-flagship shows and making up the rest of its daily air time with a 20-hour block of Cheaters wasn’t keeping anyone from changing the channel.
Then, on November 1st, 2010, G4 suffered quite possibly its killing blow when DirecTV announced that it would stop offering the channel due to low viewership.
“Since G4 is among the lowest rated networks based on the latest Nielsen data, we decided that it made sense to focus on preserving programming that is more relevant to our larger customer base,” said DirecTV at the time, making it clear that they saw no value in the network.
In the wake of this decision, Attack of the Show hosts Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn – whose chemistry was the only reason the show worked in the first place – left G4 to pursue their own respective Hollywood careers.
Attack of the Show would never recover from this loss.
This is the fundamental problem with the efforts to reboot G4.
After being told 12 years ago that G4 had no value in the eyes of audiences, NBC Universal decided to try again, but with no consideration to the question of ‘How are we going to sell something to people they weren’t interested in back in 2010?'”
Instead, those in charge thought that the simple act of bringing back Xplay and Attack of the Show in 2021 would lead viewers to flock back to the network.
However, they failed to realize that a lot has changed over the last decade – and not for the better.
The writing was on the walls for the G4 format even before its second official revival.
Years after G4’s first death, Pereira tried to keep the show going and attempted to revive Attack of the Show on his own dime, launching a similarly-styled show called ‘The Attack’ on YouTube and Twitch.
Yet, even with the network’s longest-tenured history at the helm and other former G4 hosts like Candace Bailey and Sara Underwood popping in from time to time, The Attack never worked.
The problem was by 2015, no one was interested in an Attack of the Show-style program, much less a near 1:1 clone of the entire thing.
Things got so bad for Pereira that, at one point, the host was busted for view-botting his streams in an attempt to make it seem like the show had more interest than it actually did.
Pereira’s show died roughly two years before NBC Universal decided to officially revive G4 – and yet, the powers that be decided to continue moving forward with reviving a show that nobody wanted to watch, making no real changes to its presentation, and putting it up as the tentpole of the network reboot.
Then there is the Adam Sessler problem…
Sessler was fired from XPlay in 2012 because he had grown a reputation for being difficult to work with, and as the years passed, his mental state would only deteriorate, as he started yelling at gamers, bitching about the general industry, and overall just becoming a miserable person.
Then came Donald Trump.
The election of Trump was for Sessler, like many, the straw that broke the camel’s back for their rationality.
After the former President was elected to office, Sessler went on to become one of the most prominent faces of the internet’s ‘Punch A Nazi’ and ‘It’s Okay To Dox People I Don’t Like’ movements.
At this point, long-term fans of Sessler, some going as far back to his days on TechTV and Ziff Davis TV, could no longer stand to listen to him.
With every outburst – and there were many – Sessler lost fans, popularity, and his credibility.
So when considering a revival of Xplay, who did NBC Universal tap to host it? Not Morgan Webb, who still maintains a significant level of likability with the overwhelming fans of both TechTV and the original G4.
Nor any of the numerous G4 personalities that people still admire, such as Chris Harwick, Alison Haislip, Kristen Adams, Chris Gore, Blair Butler, Layla Kayleigh, and so many others who didn’t return to the venture.
No, they brought back Sessler.
On one hand, it admittedly made sense to bring him back. Sessler has been associated with the network going all the way back to 1998, and for a while served as one of its main faces.
But as said before, the man available for work now is not the same Adam from 24 years ago.
Rather, this is a Sessler who has become a hatemonger, soaks in his own misery, and even gone so far as to wish death on those related to him because of their political voting history.
To make matters worse, G4 then doubled-down on handing the reboot’s reigns to unlikeable personalities by hiring Frosk to co-host the show.
That’s right, two people that no one wanted to watch were put in charge of a show with a historical viewership problem.
Folks, G4’s revival was NEVER going to work.
Even aside from its abysmal choice in hosts, the odds of their success for G4 in 2022 even worse than they were in the late-2000s thanks to one simple factor: the internet.
With outlets like YouTube and Twitch allowing for regular players to make Let’s Plays, cover gaming news, and entertain with original content. Likewise, esports has brought a significant rise to both the popularity and public support of multiplayer games.
What was once considered niche has now become mainstream – so much so the market has become somewhat saturated.
So, in this environment, how could two shows that struggled to find an audience 12 years ago effectively endear itself to viewers today?
Well, we now know the answer to this question. They couldn’t.
And as a result, G4 is dead…again.
In my opinion, the brutal truth is that G4 peaked during the 8.5 months in which it was branded as G4TechTV.
Outside of that window, the brand has been fighting a losing battle for going on 17 years – and clearly, no one seems to have learned any lessons from G4’s battle scars.
Nostalgia can only go so far.
It is time for G4’s legacy to rest in peace.