Skip to main content

How the relaunched G4 plans to stand out in the Twitch era

G4 is back. The iconic TV channel made its official return to the air on November 16, both in a traditional cable television format and on Twitch and YouTube.

G4's Catastrophic Launch Spectacular | G4TV

It’s a return to the airwaves for a channel that went offline in 2014 after a 12-year run on American cable TV. It was arguably at its height in the early 2000s as a primarily gaming-focused channel, with programs like Attack of the Show, X-Play, and American Ninja Warrior, as well as on-air talent that included Adam Sessler, Morgan Webb, and Olivia Munn.

G4 had been teasing a return to the airwaves since July 2020, with Sessler slated to return alongside revivals of Attack of the Show and X-Play. It’s slowly built a new pool of talent since then, which ranges from celebrity gamers like Xavier Woods to online broadcasters such as Gina Darling, Indiana “Froskurinn” Black, Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil, and the virtual YouTuber CodeMiko.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first new original show on the network, Invitation to Party, focuses on Dungeons & Dragons-style live-play, with B. Dave Walters running adventures for Ify Nwadiwe (Smosh), Fiona Nova (Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Hunter), Froskurinn, and YouTuber Kassem G.

On the day after the network’s official return, I sat down with Brian Terwilliger, G4’s senior vice president of programming and development and a returning behind-the-scenes employee from G4’s original run. We discussed G4’s current game plan, its programming lineup, and how to create a new cable network in 2021.

Brian Terwilliger, G4’s senior VP of programming and development. Image used with permission by copyright holder

I assumed that when you said “cable channel,” you meant a traditional 24-7 network. Now it looks like it’s mostly on-demand. How does that work?

Brian Terwilliger: You are not incorrect. The cable channels are programmed as 24/7 linear channels. Twitch and YouTube, every day, is going to be a multihour live experience. Never reruns, never old stuff, fresh uploads every single day.

On linear, traditional cable, that’s where you’re getting the 24/7, warm and fuzzy, just like you remember it, curated and timed programs, specifically for that audience. We are taking different approaches based on the different platforms.

It does seem like you’re trying to split the middle between the on-demand system and the more traditional “appointment TV” sort of deal. How do you arrive at that programming schedule in an increasingly post-cable world?

BT: It’s a great question. I’ll say, what we look like at launch and what we look like 90 days from now, it’s going to evolve. We know that we’re going to learn, we’re going to have feedback across all of our platforms. At the end of the day, we want to be everywhere gamers are. That’s really the story we’re telling through our programming.

For Twitch and YouTube, I mentioned never having a rerun and always being live. The way we look at this, our core thinking for how this crazy Rube Goldberg content flow works, is that our Twitch and YouTube are the daily live studio taping. If you go to the Tonight Show taping, craziness is breaking loose, things break, and someone cursed. That’s OK, because that’s the live environment to us.

Then, for linear and traditional cable, that’s where a more curated approach is really required. Not all of Twitch and YouTube makes for good TV. They have a lot of interactivity, which is great for those digital platforms, but playing out linearly doesn’t quite work.

You saw a lot of this during the pandemic. There were a lot of digital formats just being thrown against the wall. We took that learning and assessment and really baked it into the foundation, of how you get Attack of the Show to work. How can it be true to the digital audience? If we expect an audience to grow with us, we’ve got to make sure we’re being inclusive, and that includes the younger demo. How do we get the legacy audience, who’s probably watching us on those more traditional platforms?

Over time, we’re going to learn more about who’s watching where and what we might find. We’re excited to learn. But our core thesis is that our digital is the live taping, our rawest form, all the fun, all the mistakes, all the ugly bits, and then we clean it up and it becomes a nice, pristine TV show.

How Do YOU Watch G4?

That makes a lot of sense. I suppose it also explains the “we don’t know what we’re doing” aspect of your media presence. When you look at the website, it comes off like you all don’t quite know what’s going on.

BT: That’s dead-on accurate. That’s what we are. G4 has always been a comedic brand, and it just so happened that games and technology and gadgets were what that was applied to. That’s very much the most important thing. These are comedy brands that we feel embody the same shenanigans and sensibilities that are expressed across our stuff.

That’s just who we are. It’s not just the brand campaign. We will always be the first to acknowledge we’re terrible, we’re going to say we stink, we will be the first to punch ourselves. I think that defines G4, that’s what makes it accessible. We don’t have an ego. G4 can make fun of itself first.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It kind of reminds me of the original Muppet Show, that spit-and-baling-wire community theater feel.

BT: Yes. Yes!

What drew you to the talent that you picked for the relaunch? It’s this interesting mix of Twitch personalities, YouTubers, and a few returning people like Adam Sessler.

BT: As someone who worked at the original G4, it’s no secret: G4 was very white.

If you look at our cast now, our G4 cast today represents all gamers. I can say that with a full heart and complete sincerity. That’s who the gaming audience is. We’re representative across background, across sexuality, across gender. It’s really important. This is one of those things where, if you look back, G4 could’ve been better about. We didn’t necessarily have all the pieces that we needed.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The idea is that G4 is representing the industry, everyone’s very specific areas of interests and passions. We’ve got folks that are into esports, folks that are into cosplay, we’ve got tabletop. The world has changed. You look at our roster, it’s deep and dynamic. Because they’re successful Twitch streamers with those really deep points of passion, it’s authentic. You can’t be a successful Twitch streamer being inauthentic, you just can’t.

It’s consideration of who we want to be in 2021, and as we find our footing into 2022, as our programming evolves and we start covering events and we return to all the things that people expect G4 to participate in. At the old G4, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes did a weekly movie review that they didn’t need to come in and do. They did it because they wanted to be on G4 and to have fun.

Our programming is essentially our talent, putting our ideas together. We have the right people in play, and they want to create.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Editors' Recommendations

Thomas Hindmarch
Contributing writer
Thomas Hindmarch is a freelance writer with 20 years' experience in the gaming and technology fields. He also writes for…
Logitech’s A50 X is a gaming headset and HDMI switcher in one
Tech of the Week Logitech A50 X

Logitech has announced its latest gaming headset, the Astro A50 X. It costs a whopping $380, but for good reason: It's a headset that's compatible with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X that doubles as an HDMI switcher.

The new device is an evolution of Logitech's popular Astro A50 headset, which features a distinct base stand. The A50 X builds on that idea in a few ways. One key example is that it's able to connect to both the PS5 and Xbox Series X. That might sound simple, but the consoles feature different connection methods that make it difficult to find a one-headset-fits-all audio solution.

Read more
Fortnite’s Rocket Racing is so fun, it could have been its own game
rocket racing hands on impressions jumping through air

Yesterday, Fortnite began its biggest expansion yet by dropping Lego Fortnite, a full survival crafting game that's playable for free within Fortnite. It was a pleasant surprise, but it isn’t the best piece of new content coming to the live-service juggernaut this week. That honor goes to Rocket Racing, an arcade racing game from the developers of Rocket League that’s available in Fortnite today.

This isn’t a simple kart racer that anyone could have put together in Fortnite’s creative mode. It’s a full-throated, free-to-play game that features 26 tracks at launch and some surprisingly deep driving systems. While Lego Fortnite may have had trouble standing on its own two feet outside of the Fortnite client, Rocket Racing could very well have launched as its own game -- and it still would be the best racing game of its type this year.

Read more
How to get planks in Lego Fortnite
lego fortnite hands on impressions village


Collecting resources and building isn't a foreign concept to Fortnite players. A major part of the game, unless you're in zero build, is smacking trees, walls, rocks, and basically everything with your pickaxe to get materials to build basic walls and structures to give you an edge in battle. Lego Fortnite has its own crafting and building system, but doesn't work in quite the same way. Planks in particular are the most essential building material in the game, but you can't get them by simply whacking a tree. Here's a quick rundown on how to collect planks to build your dream world in Lego Fortnite.
How to get planks in Lego Fortnite

Read more