• Justin Hess

G4TV Is Back, And I'm Game!

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

G4TV is back and let me tell you; it feels good to say that!


For those of you who were born in the late '90s or early 2000's you may or may not know what G4TV is. Formerly known as ZDTV/TechTV, G4TV was an American television network owned by Comcast. To help understand why I'm hyped about this revival we should first talk about TechTV and G4's history.



Founded by Eric Hippeaun in 1998, TechTV, a cable and satellite channel-based network, launched and featured shows about computers, tech, and this absurdly slow thing called the internet. Hey, it was fast for its time, so long as you didn't need the phone! Launching on April, 24th 2002, G4TV focused on video games/media like movies, conventions (E3 and Comic-Con), esports, movies, comics, tech, and more! It was the cultivation of all things nerdy and geeky during the rising success of at-home console gaming with added fables such as Japanese reality shows like Ninja Warrior.


Both TechTV and G4 appealed to the teenage demographic at the time. G4 probably targeted them more so, in the aspect of targeting gamers as a specific audience - an untapped market by media. TechTV's demographic included gamers but ultimately focused on computer enthusiasts. Fast-forward to 2002, when G4 became a gaming channel; it was filled with shows trying to identify with said demographic. G4 consisted of shows discussing many topics like adventure games, reviews, PvP (player versus player), and a block solely dedicated to only game footage without any human interaction. Of course, there were others, but we'll dive more into that.


An original program named G4TV.com was a talk show hosted by Lara Foy, Scott Ruben, and Tina Wood. G4TV.com would jump from topic to topic each week featuring guests from the gaming industry. They tried to keep the channel interactive by gaming with viewers via gamertag handouts through the forums, having users post questions, and having them as phone guests to talk to with those working in the gaming industry.


Early on, G4 started quite successfully but soon began to lose momentum. G4 was a 24 hour network, and with little content produced, there were a ton of reruns. Throughout the years even with their own "big" events, such as video game award shows G4 began to struggle. G4 struggled with grabbing the attention or bringing in advertisers as G4's base roughly reached 14-15 million homes that had G4 listed on their Comcast subscription.


In 2004 to help resolve this issue, G4 purchased TechTV when Eric Hippeau was selling ownership. This helped save G4 as merging with TechTV meant it would inherit its slots on both cable and satellite television broadcasts, allowing it to reach 50-60 million homes; in turn, this peaked the interests of advertisers. However, loyal TechTV fans were unhappy about the merger and thought G4 would ruin all that TechTV was known for.


Later that year the channel relaunched under their new alias G4TechTV. During this process, Comcast laid off numerous employees and canceled many shows which were known by many loyal fans of TechTV. Popular shows were saved such as X-Play, a videogame review show, and were carried into the new yet finite life of G4TechTV. However, some fans' fears were coming to fruition.


Not a year down the road and G4 dropped the TechTV tag altogether after canceling many loyalists' favorite shows. TechTV had become a shell of its former self, swallowed by G4. Popular shows of TechTV however survived in a new light. Screen Savers was one of TechTV's well-known shows which held a dedicated fanbase and many were sad to see it turn into something new. However, many did come to love its newfound identity after its rebranding to Attack of the Show. Screen Savers was essentially reskinned.


Attack of the Show focused on pop culture, gaming/tech news with reviews, and occasional comedy sketches. Kevin Pereira, who started early as a production assistant in '02 on G4TV.com, moved from show to show such as Arena, Pulse, Screen Savers, and finally landed a hosting position on Attack of the Show. In addition to Kevin, G4 picked up actress Olivia Munn to co-host with Kevin. There was admittedly a lot of fan service involved once Olivia came aboard, which in turn did help keep a percentage of viewers returning.



This wasn't the entire case, however. Along with popular segments of the show like "Around the Net" - insert ATN chanting here... the chemistry between Olivia and Kevin was like none other. They went together like peanut butter and jelly, gooey cheese melting over macaroni, and perhaps even Thanos' gauntlet and the Infinity Stones. They put on a good show and made it all entertaining.


Fast-forward down the road after many failed attempts at appealing to a young male demographic with "mature" content nighttime shows, and G4 was heading nowhere fast as it began losing its dedicated viewer base. Failed originals like 'Happy Tree Friends' and other catastrophes like abysmal commercially interrupted coverages of cons like E3 began to put nails in G4's coffin.


Adding salt in the wound G4 spent big money securing licenses to run shows like Heroes and Lost, only to see them flop. With most of their content canceled G4 needed to fill airtime and soon began running reruns of what every viewer has come to loathe and remember about what G4 was. Enter Cops and Cheaters. Cops is a reality show which has camera crews following police during their day-to-day activities. Cheaters was a staged-camera style show that caught couples cheating on one another which usually led to arguments and threats - you know, "good" TV. These two shows filled up literal hours of G4's broadcasting blocks with constant marathons of each. At this point, a majority of its intended demographic viewer base was gone with the wind.


In 2010 DirecTV dropped G4 from its listings. Remember all those channel slots G4 inherited through the merger? They were all gone. Furthermore, over the next two years, Oliva left Attack of the Show to pursue her acting career, and Adam Sessler, co-host to Morgan Webb of X-play, was fired. Meanwhile, Kevin announced he was leaving Attack of the Show. Viewer ratings tanked in response all while G4 was in process of being acquired by Esquire Magazine.


Throughout 2013-2014 the G4 studio wrapped up its final productions and closed its doors as G4 was now officially the Esquire Network. Once a TV network about technology and all things gaming/nerdy was now a program catered towards a metrosexual audience centering on travel, cooking, sports, and fashion; along with reruns of popular sitcoms and dramas. G4 was officially dead; or was it?


In July of 2020, there was an announced revival of the G4 platform and a trailer dropped at comic-con. In this trailer fading into view was an old dusty warehouse filled with easter eggs, boxes with materials stacked and forgotten as the camera pans around. Nintendo controllers lay askew on top of crates, a barrel labeled "zombie weapons” with a nail bat stored inside could be seen. Finally, as the camera pans a faint yet familiar pinging sound is heard.


The pinging grows louder and louder as finally we are brought to an old CRT TV broadcasting a game of Pong. With player scores reaching well into the millions, this was an obvious ode to G4's original debut when it aired Pong for two weeks straight. The game is interrupted by an "incoming transmission" showcasing the G4 logo, a 2021 date, and a message, "We never stopped playing." Hauntingly inquisitive.


Later that year on November 20th, we were met with a Thanksgiving special. Hosted by actor and comedian Ron Funches; many of the G4 casts return in a comedy sketch disguised as a thanksgiving dinner to reminisce on their favorite moments at G4. During this special, they even perform a small revival of Attack of the Show's popular segment, Around the Net. It was quite an entertaining reunion.


One year later on the 10th of November over on Adam Savage's Tested Youtube page a new video was uploaded. A video titled, 'The Beacon' appeared featuring Adam Savage himself and Kevin Pereira. The two awaken in the cockpit of what seems like a spaceship. The two astronauts begin to scavenge the ship they're on. We are then greeted with a desolate view of what could only be Earth; the ship which they emerge from is crashed and the cityscape in the background is post-apocalyptic.


"I feel they've returned to their roots with this revival. Their focus is obvious and it's fantastic to experience G4 once again as it was intended."

As they explore, they come across a CRT TV, Adam presses a button on a nearby remote, and static suddenly broadcasts the G4 logo. As the TV broadcasts, Kevin's spacesuit also illuminates G4's logo on his dorsal side. The two obviously in response begin to play chess on a chessboard they find adjacent to the television. This short film was made by Adam in celebration of his new build, the spacesuits, and the return of G4.


Nearly one week later on Nov 16th, 2021 G4 officially launches its new network with a special launch event! The event is run by original G4 hosts Kevin Pereira and Adam Sessler along with some new faces that will be hosting alongside them and help define the network's identity. They celebrate the night with fun activities such as creating a new world record for the largest functioning game controller, hosts competing in Tetris using the world's largest functioning game controller, and a nice family activity called 'The Wheel of Pain.'


This fun game show wheel consisted of many categories such as Spray Tan Hand, Hot Shots Roulette (shots of hot sauce), Take An Ad Break, What's In The Box, and finally Shock, Paper, and Scissors. There was one section of the wheel that read, "Launch G4!!!!" and you can guess it, they didn't launch until the wheel landed on this section. During mini-breaks they showcased that spacesuit Adam made and did only what G4 does best, they shoved a person inside it wearing a weird life-like cat mask naming them DJ Catastrophic. Get it? It's because it was the Catastrophic Launch Party; I suppose it's because there was a cat in a spacesuit too.


The entirety of the launch event was pretty amusing and comically fun while staying entertaining. It was great to see old faces while seeing the new faces that would be along for the ride. G4 had a successful launch party and showcased its lineup which included two shows lasting until the end of G4's original run, Attack of the Show and X-Play (now XPlay). Additionally, two new entries have arrived on the new G4, Boosted and Invitation to Party.



Boosted is an esports show hosted by Froskurinn, Ovilee May and Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez. Boosted will have coverage consisting of the latest news, trends, and tournaments in the esports community every week. Invitation to Party is a series that will follow four D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) campaigns with a mix of G4's talent, veteran D&D players, and celebrities. Currently, you'll see Fiona Nova, Kassem Gharaibeh, Ify Nwadiwe, Froskurinn, and B. Dave Walters on the show.


Attack of the Show, or AotS, will consist of all the same old segments with some new touches added in. They still have pop culture aspects of AotS as shown in the first episode when Will Neff reviews the new Ghostbusters movie, Kassem suggests new comic books in Fresh Ink, Kevin talks crypto/NFTs in NFTea Time, The Feed which is a speed round of current news in the tech/nerd world and of course to wrap things up EPIC FAIL.


They've also extended segments like Around the Net, which was usually a quick five minutes, of random videos from the internet. Around the Net now also includes live viewer ratings of each video allowing for viewer interaction, and lasts a solid 40 or more minutes. The first episode also included interaction via a live contest in which three individuals in chat won Omen gaming laptops.


Attack of the Show's segment "The Loop" also returns as part of AotS but in a much more in-depth extended segment that invites guests to the show which now lasts over an hour. This will show up on streaming platforms as part of the show but will also dive into the world of podcasts allowing viewers to take them on the road. The first Loop episode invited the beloved Adam Savage onto the set with Kevin to have a nice diverse discussion where they even asked viewers questions. Such questions included one of the most important conundrums in history, "Is a hotdog a sandwich?"


During Attack of the Show, there was the return of old and questionably loveable characters too. Individuals such as Drunkle Ted, Drunk Iron Man (now known as Microdosing Armored Hero due to copyright issues), Kevin's Hype Machine, and more have appeared. It looks like they are getting the old crew back together. Some are wondering if Morgan Webb, co-host of X-Play, and Olivia Munn may make guest appearances now and then. I for one would love that.



Xplay also returns to G4 with host Adam Sessler and new hosts Froskurinn, Jirard "The Completionist" Khalil, and The Black Hokage. Xplay was and is still mainly a game review show with a few extras. They have new segments, one of which I enjoy, is Speedrun the News. This feels like home to me as I enjoy speedrunning and video games! Also integrated into Xplay is a Generic Game Talking Segment in which they casually discuss video games and more.


Xplay has always been dedicated to dissecting all the games you love and hate so that you don't have to and tell you what's what. Of course, with Xplay back in full motion, it's great to see 'The Sess' back at it on top of his soapbox preaching what he knows best, video games! Much like AotS, you'll find segments of Xplay you've come to miss and even new ones that keep everything fresh while having you love them. Hey, whether you hate their 0 - 5 five rating scale or love it, Xplay is back to tell you how much Skyrim Adam Sessler has played over the past ten years.


As of this writing, G4 has only been back for two weeks but has taken off strong. They have consistent viewership on both Twitch and Youtube while continuing to grow their new community. To fill airtime they stream casual chatting segments that involve hosts, hold mini gaming sessions, conversations with chatters, interact with their Discord server, and more! G4 is available on multiple platforms including Verizon FiOS, Xfinity TV, and streaming platforms like Youtube and Twitch.


I feel they've returned to their roots with this revival. Their focus is obvious and it's fantastic to experience G4 once again as it was intended. Without a doubt, they have been providing gaming, tech, and nerd-like oriented news with the same casual appearance and less corporate style that it was molded into in its previous untimely fate. I'm in it for the long haul. Thanks to everyone at G4 for serving up a perfect dish of entertainment and nostalgia!


 

Quit The Build, also known as QTB, is a growing network of podcasts, influencers, and contributors all with a common passion for video games, movies & television, and pop culture. Founded in 2015, Quit The Build is bringing a unique perspective to the table through years of experience in the media industry. Get the latest video game news from Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and PC gaming with the Quit The Build Podcast every Wednesday. Dive into the Gotta Watch Podcast for your weekly guide to all the must-see movies and talked-about TV shows every Thursday. Join our growing Community and discover our growing Network for more content!


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