G4 Folds Into E! Tent
Comcast is consolidating its West Coast entertainment networks, bringing G4 management under the E! Networks tent.
E! and Style chief Ted Harbert has been given the newly created title of CEO, Comcast Entertainment Group. He will continue to report to Comcast Programming Group President Jeff Shell. G4 President Neal Tiles, who joined the network in September 2005, will now report to Mr. Harbert.
G4's executive staff will move into E!'s Los Angeles offices. Sources said layoffs among the G4 staff are likely, though Mr. Harbert said it's too soon to tell.
"When there is consolidation, if we find there's overlap in administrative and support positions, we'll have tough calls to make," he said. "But we haven't looked at that yet."
Mr. Harbert said he has not yet decided whether G4's Santa Monica production facilities will move as well. "They're shooting shows in very expensive space, but we're already maxed out at this building," he said. "I don't know what the answer is, but nothing will happen for a while."
Mr. Harbert's duties for E! and Style will not change. As for G4, Mr. Harbert said he will weigh in on programming decisions but emphasized that Mr. Tiles will continue to run the network.
"I believe that when somebody has a title that says they run the operation, they should run the operation," he said. "My main job is to fight to get him resources [from Comcast] for programming and marketing. They don't have nearly enough of a marketing budget."
Since Comcast launched G4 in 2002, the network has had a difficult time gaining traction. Its video game brand attracts demographically desirable young male viewers, but too few of them. During the third quarter, G4 was ranked 57th out of 64 basic cable networks.
In the past year, the channel has tried to expand its brand to a general-interest young men's network with acquisitions including "Star Trek" and "Arrested Development."
"I do agree with the vision of going after young men more than just going after gaming," Mr. Harbert said. "Gaming has been demonstrated as being too narrow."