Gamers and technophiles knew something was up when long-time X-Play host Adam Sessler announced he was leaving G4 after fourteen years. Whatever tipped him off soon made its way to Kevin Pereira, following quickly behind. Now it seems that the new direction and branding for G4 has a more definitive plan.
Come 2013, G4 will be relaunched to attract the attention of, and offer programming for the metro-sexual male as ‘The Esquire Channel.’
Fans who followed the on-air talent and programming have had a bit of time to grow accustomed to the idea of never again enjoying X-Play or Attack of the Show!. The blow might have been softened since the most recognizable and consistent faces from the programs have made their way elsewhere: Sessler moving over to Revision3, Pereira making a splash in the podcast world (among others), and even long-time geek-goddess Olivia Munn now earning accolades on HBO’s The Newsroom.
Fans of the network experienced firsthand the shift away from gaming or tech-focused content over the years, replaced and supplemented with programming aimed at the key demographics tuning in, not necessarily tailored to the reasons they traditionally watched. Apparently, the ‘geek’ audience that so many companies and publishers are aiming to profit from these days isn’t what NBCUniversal is after.
The first details on the upcoming re-branding planned for 2013 claimed that the network’s owners were intent on capturing the ‘GQ audience,’ so this confirmation of a forthcoming ‘Esquire Channel’ (courtesy of THR) isn’t shocking. But that won’t make it go over any better with the gaming and technophile audience.
We won’t buy into stereotypes to the point of arguing that there is little overlap between the ‘metro-sexual’ and ‘gamer’ crowd, since gaming enthusiasts can now be found in every demographic (for proof, just take a look at this year’s Spike VGA winners). But the impression that NBCUniversal is now pursuing fashion-savvy, globetrotting and cooking male viewers instead of gamers is nearly impossible to avoid.
Gaming is still going to make up a portion of the channel’s programming, but by bringing the axe down on the two longest-running and popular shows aimed squarely at G4′s existing audience, it’s hard to believe that keeping those viewers is a top priority.
We could absolutely be wrong, and an Esquire Channel might help round out the gaming enthusiast’s culinary aptitude and fashion sense. But for now, we won’t bet on many of the core audience sticking around to be proven wrong.
What do you think of the re-branding? Is this a decision that makes sense for NBCUniversal, or will this decision come back to bite them? Sound off in the comments.
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