Pressing Buttons 10.27.06: The Rise and Fall of G4 [PART 2]
Posted by Joshua Richey on 10.27.2006
The G4TechTV era begins with a thud.
First off, I apologize for my tardiness. School has really been busting my chops this past week. So much work to do, so little time to do it in. But don't you worry, not even school will stop me from further prosecuting G4 to an eternity in hell. This is Part 2 in our 4 Part look at the Rise and Fall of G4… still, mostly the fall.
Feedback from Pressing Buttons 10.17.06: The Rise and Fall of G4 [PART 1]
I am literally writing this column in between classes. I've currently got 30 minutes until I have to be in my Information Systems class, so for this week, I'm going to have to skip the feedback portion. Instead, I'll post some of it next week during Part 3.
In case you missed last week's edition of Pressing Buttons, first off, how dare you, secondly, we began to break down what went wrong with the G4 Network. In Part 1, we covered its inception. This week, we cover its second phase... the G4TechTV era.
I think that we can all agree that the idea of a 24/7 Gamer Network is/was very appealing at one time. There is definitely a market for it. The Video Game Industry is twice as big as the Film industry, twice as big as the Music business, and even more profitable than the Sports industry; mediums that have many of their own networks dedicated to them. Throughout the 1990's, Video Game programming was limited to very small increments. GamePro had a short lived show on Fox Sports Net. ZDTV/TechTV dedicated a small portion of their schedule to video games, but other than that, Video Game coverage was mostly limited to magazines and the Internet. For this reason alone, G4 could have worked. It didn't, but dammit, it could have.
TechTV was a lot like the Animal Planet. No matter when you turned it on there was always something on it that caught your attention. TechTV did an amazing job at breaking down technologies from all across the globe, then breaking down how it worked. You had shows like Call for Help and The Screen Savers that taught you the newest computer techniques and provided great advice on how to better maintain your Mac or PC. You had shows like Fresh Gear that helped viewers know what hardware that they should or shouldn't spend their money on. Shows like X-Play, Unscrewed, and Invent This provided zero helpful information; instead, they provided quality entertaining television that was able to relate to its audience. Looking back on it, I think there was only one show on TechTV that I hated with a passion. But we'll call that a mulligan because, let's be honest, Battlebots were only cool for about 15 minutes.
When the announcement was made that TechTV would be merging with G4, I'll be honest with you, I was ecstatic. The reasoning for my ecstaticness (is that a word?) came from a renewed hope that G4 could now (with the support of TechTV) become what it was suppose to be. But G4 quickly took a gigantic poo-poo on those hopes.
In March of 2004, the merger of G4 and TechTV was completed, and it wasn't long after that that everyone witnessed G4's intentions for their newest acquisition. In a meeting that was held by G4, 240 TechTV employees were told that they would lose their jobs. Among those employees were many of the writers, producers, and on-air talents that were responsible for TechTV's success in the first place. Those employees that weren't fired were asked to relocate to Los Angeles; a move that managed to filter out even more of TechTV's best talents.
Things would proceed to only get worse for the newly renamed G4TechTV. Only a handful of TechTV's great shows were picked up and placed on the G4 schedule. The shows that G4 didn't pickup were promptly canceled... and wouldn't even be aired in re-runs. The shows that were salvaged had their formats changed so much that they no longer were as appealing as they once were. Screen Savers, which was once TechTV's premier program used to be dedicated to nothing more than tech related news and advice. After the merger, G4 replaced Screen Savers once charming and knowledgeable hosts, and the show was centered less around technology, and more around Video Games and Hollywood news; as if we didn't hear enough about Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt on every other damn channel.
To say that G4 completely mishandled the TechTV merger, would be like saying that Joel Schumacher mishandled the Batman franchise… a complete understatement. It got so bad that TechTV's loyal viewers banded together in an effort to completely boycott G4TechTV. Usually, that's not a good thing.
G4TechTV failed to capture any of the traits that made TechTV wonderful. While G4 did keep around G4 originals like Adam Sessler, Morgan Webb, Sarah Lane, and Kevin Rose, they allowed the heart and soul of TechTV to walk away; Leo Laporte. Since originally joining G4, both Kevin Rose and Sarah Lane have since left the network; leaving only Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb.
The merger was an admitted failure. G4 had merged in hopes of doubling their fan base, and instead, all that they accomplished was killing one of the better channels on television.
More changes lay ahead for G4 as they prepared for yet another facelift. Would it fair any better? We'll talk about it next week in Part 3 of The Rise and Fall of G4.
In The Next Edition Of Pressing Buttons:
Yeah, you know that entire Video Game channel thing? Yeah, let's scrap it.
G4 drops the TechTV name, and attempts to form yet another identity. Would this one work out any better, or would G4 continue its quick journey into the abyss known as bad television?
Find out next week in a new edition of Pressing Buttons.