Gaming-oriented cable television channel G4 never quite captured the fire it sought as technology coverage eroded over the years to make way for reruns of Lost, Heroes, and another showing of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film, yet still the channel and its few staple gaming shows held on. Now Variety has the news that G4's owners over at NBCUniversal are cutting bait on the channel that has been chasing the old Spike TV demographic and will abandon its current focus. The new target market? Upscale men. G4 is going GQ. Here's the story:
The NBCUniversal-owned cabler is undergoing a rebranding, according to sources, that could involve a name change and take G4 in a direction reminiscent of GQ, the magazine for the "modern male" whose interests span beyond the dorm room or messy bachelor pad. The guy-centric net is mulling a more sophisticated look while remaining true to its tech and vid game roots. Brand refresh aims to bow in early 2013.
A spokesperson for the network declined comment.
The decade-old net rang in the new year with the appointment of former NBC marketing chief Adam Stotsky as its new general manager. He in turn hired former VH1 and BermanBraun exec Matt Hanna as head of original programming, in addition to making a series of promotions within program planning, acquisitions and marketing departments, reshaping the architecture of G4's upper ranks.
While I still firmly believe that there's a place for a video game cable channel, G4 never quite knew how to capture the audience. Like most cable channels these days, it fell into bad habits of pandering and shooting for the lowest common denominator while still trying to cover major gaming events like E3 with respectability. That's an odd gap to bridge. Then again, I'm the kind of guy who looks down on trash TV and likes to be entertained with thought-provoking light-hearted escapism, so G4's doubling down on the stereotypical gaming demographic of foul-mouthed online multiplayer fanatics was never going to appeal to me. There are talented people working at G4 and they have done some great work when given the opportunity, but the corporate directive to seemingly aim low was never going to match what I want in a gaming channel. I can't be alone in that belief.