Comcast Pulls Plug On G4 TV, Ending Comeback Try For Gamer-Focused Network

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EXCLUSIVE: Comcast’s Spectacor division is pulling the plug on video game-centric network G4 TV, whose early incarnation in the 2000s remains a cultural touchstone for many millennials, just a year after its relaunch.

In a memo set to be sent out to all employees, Spectacor CEO Dave Scott explained that the company’s investment and efforts to revive the network just didn’t gain traction.

A few dozen employees and contract workers are affected by the shutdown. Comcast said it will assist them with outplacement and consider some for internal opportunities.

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The departure over the summer of Russell Arons, an experienced digital media exec who had come aboard as G4’s president in 2021, was a precursor to today’s news. Her duties were added to the portfolio of Joe Marsh, a Comcast Spectacor vet who has been 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 was its predecessor. It has announced a programming slate including a revived version of original G4 mainstays Attack of the Show! and Xplay, plus comedy Boosted, Japanese competition series Ninja Warrior, esports competitions and Dungeons & Dragons limited series.

Along with putting 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 ventures centered on the gamer community have hit turbulence recently, with Facebook shutting down its gaming app and Google winding down gaming service Stadia. VENN, a start-up billed as the “MTV of video games,” also just went bust.

G4’s initial run began in 2002 under co-owners NBCUniversal and Dish Network. The network was created by former Disney TV exec Charles Hirschhorn, who saw it as a successor to MTV in its potential to tap into youth culture. A number of notable personalities appeared as hosts on G4 in its early run, among them Olivia Munn, Chris Hardwick, Kevin Pereira and Grace Helbig.

After it went dark in 2014, G4’s place on the dial was taken over by the Esquire Network, which would prove to be a short-lived branding exercise. Amid a groundswell of enthusiasm on social media, new owner Comcast Spectacor revealed plans at Comic-Con’s virtual 2020 edition for the network’s return.

Spectacor’s main business focus is on sports and live events, with the division owning the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers as well as their home arena, the Wells Fargo Center, along with numerous other assets. The results of G4 were never particularly material to Spectacor, but the division has avidly pursed esports, making the G4 revival a logical thing to attempt.

Here is Scott’s full memo, which Deadline obtained from a source:

Team:

As you know, G4 was re-introduced last year to tap into the popularity of
gaming. We invested to create the new G4 as an online and TV destination for fans
to be entertained, be inspired, and connect with gaming content.

Over the past several months, we worked hard to generate that interest in G4, but
viewership is low and the network has not achieved sustainable financial
results. This is certainly not what we hoped for, and, as a result, we have made the
very difficult decision to discontinue G4’s operations, effective immediately.
I know this is disappointing news, and I’m disappointed, too. I want to thank you
and everyone on the G4 team for the hard work and commitment to the network.

Our human resources team is reaching out to you to provide you with support,
discuss other opportunities that may be available, and answer any questions you
may have.

Thank you again for all of your hard work for G4.

Sincerely,

Dave Scott
Chairman and CEO
Comcast Spectacor

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