With each passing day, video games are becoming more and more mainstream and widespread to the public. Even though video games are almost common place nowadays, it’s surprising how a vast majority of the media practically don’t acknowledge their existence. Think about it: when was the last time you heard about video games on television, aside from the commercials?
Well, the last time I heard about video games on TV was on a now cancelled channel called G4, a channel made specifically for people who loves to play video games.
The channel launched in 2002, a time where video games were starting to become mainstream.
G4 had a strong start with a decent line-up of game oriented programs. These includes shows like Arena, G4TV.com and Cinematech.
With shows like these, G4 became a unique channel that was never seen before: A channel that was dedicated entirely to video games, not occasionally dedicated to them.
G4 was a cable channel, which meant that it can only have limited ratings. With the limited ratings, the channel couldn’t get advertisers to sponsor their shows, which meant that G4 was becoming more and more expensive to run.
With the growth of G4 being way too slow, the channel used desperate measures in order to keep the channel alive. The moment arrived when Tech TV was put up for sale by its owner. G4 purchased it and inherited their cable listings, which allowed the channel to get more viewership potential.
G4 took most of Tech TV’s shows and cancelled them, leaving only their two most popular shows: X-play and The ScreenSavers, which would eventually be renamed Attack of the Show.
Although this move wasn’t really popular by fans of Tech Tv, this merger did increase G4’s ratings, mostly thanks to G4 now owning Attack of the Show and X-play, and saved G4. For the time being.
Unfortunately, G4’s problems went from bad to worse.
G4’s founder and first CEO, Charles Hirschhorn, stepped down from G4 and a new CEO, Neal Tiles, took his place.
He announced that G4 would be rebranded as a male-oriented channel, much like Spike TV. This move led to several old G4 shows like Filter and G4TV.com to be canceled.
G4 also picked up some syndicated shows to make up for the shows they canceled, such as Cops, Cheaters, Campus P.D., Ninja Warrior, Heroes and Lost, which are the types of shows you would see on a typical public TV channel.
This move would ultimately lead to G4’s termination. The constant reruns of Cops, Cheaters and other traditional syndicated shows drove away gamers while the abundance of video game content also drove away casual viewers.
Eventually, the last original show on G4, Cinematech, was canceled, leaving only X-play and Attack of the Show being the last remaining shows on G4 to talk about video games. Those shows, however, were eventually canceled.
Throughout its airing on TV, G4 never seemed to realize the massive gold mine it had when it targeted video gamers. It touched on an untapped market, video games on television, but never fully embraced it during its run on tv.
Video game shows on G4 was always popular, which is why shows like X-play and Attack of the Show managed to remain on G4 so long, which is ironic considering that both of those shows didn’t originate on G4.
But, could G4 be saved, even with the constant airings of syndicated shows?
The channel could have aired things like live speed runs, which where attempts by gamers to complete video games as fast as they could, or they could have aired showcases or reviews of classic video games.
G4 could also air movies, TV shows and cartoons that video gamers would like, such as War Games, Reboot and other similar media.
Honestly, G4 could’ve aired anime and it would’ve worked. There are many ways that G4 could have appealed to gamers without end, but they instead aired reruns of Cheaters.
There was something about G4 that will always make it unique: the fact that it was on TV.
For those who played video games, G4 was something that was almost magical.
That’s the story of G4, the story of a unique channel that didn’t last too long due to some bad ideas behind the scenes.
It capitalized on the untapped video game TV market, but it soon moved away from that to focus on the heavily overdone mainstream TV market and suffered because of it.
G4, TV for gamers, was something truly special, but now, it is seen as a modern-day tragedy. A sad tale of a great idea that was mishandled by the wrong people.
(Credit: G4 TV)