When it first hit the airwaves way back in 2002, the G4 cable network billed itself as television’s prime resource for information on video games and the techie culture that surrounds them. At the time it was an audacious plan, but gamers were excited to see TV executives who were willing to pander to their demographic. Over time however, the people behind G4 realized that there was far more money to be earned in appealing to a more mainstream, teenaged male audience and the network’s shows slowly shifted over time toward the kind of faux juvenilia seen on Spike and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block.
When this proved too lucrative a strategy to ignore, the G4 executives decided that the network needed a makeover. Gaming news would take a distant back seat to what G4 claims will be “sophisticated male-oriented programming.” As part of this ongoing image shift, G4 announced this morning that two of its most cherished, long-running shows would end production at the end of year.
“Attack Of The Show and X-Play will continue to roll out new episodes through December,” TV Guide reports. “Leading up to their finales, a rotating lineup of guest co-hosts will join Attack Of The Show hosts Candace Bailey and Sara Underwood, including John Barrowman, Michael Ian Black, Josh Myers, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel and Horatio Sanz. Various stars are also expected to join X-Play hosts Morgan Webb and Blair Herter on their show.”
In the meanwhile, both X-Play and Attack Of The Show will wind down their remaining months by airing special “farewell episodes” as well as inviting back former hosts, and rerunning popular segments.
This move will drastically change the channel’s programming landscape, as both X-Play and Attack Of The Show have long been the twin bastions of gaming culture information still available on G4. Amidst endless reruns of Cops, these two shows served as a reminder of why the network was initially created.
Remember that bit up there were we described G4′s proposed new image as “sophisticated male-oriented programming?” Even while typing that phrase it felt like a hollow buzzword, signifying nothing. Still, TV Guide has ideas on what exactly this all might mean.
Meanwhile, as speculation continues over the evolution of G4, sources say the channel may be looking to partner with Esquire magazine (or another men’s periodical, like GQ) as it moves into a more upscale, sophisticated guy TV space. Among the possible new names for the channel: “G4Men.” Some programming is expected to remain, including Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan, while acquired fare from the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Aziz Ansari could be in the mix.
None of this has been officially confirmed, but it does fall in line with everything we’ve heard so far about the channel’s image rehabilitation efforts. Plausible or not though, that paragraph is chock full of weird. G4Men? A partnership with Esquire? We love Anthony Bourdain, but his television work fits far better on the Travel Channel or the Food Network than any possible iteration of G4. Then again, he does chain smoke, drinks like a fish and wears natty leather jackets, so maybe the network wants to spotlight him as their classic image of masculinity. That wouldn’t be any more jarring than the rest of those ideas outlined above.