G4 Shifts Focus in Late-Night

Aug 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Taking a step away from video game-related programming, Comcast-owned network G4 plans a new late-night block to compete with Cartoon Network’s monster-rated Adult Swim.

The one-hour Barbed Wire Biscuit block will run Monday through Friday and consist of live-action and animated programs, both original and acquired. The content is part of a shift in emphasis away from shows directly dealing with video games and toward lifestyle programming aimed at gamers.

“When the network first began the programming it was 100 percent video game-centric with game news, previews, reviews-any way you can wrap video game content into a show,” said Peter Green, senior VP of programming and production at G4. “We’ll always have games as our core, but since we’re programming for 12- to 34-year-old males, I believe they have other interests-technology, gadgets, girls. We’re trying to run the gambit and broaden out.”

The block, which the network plans to debut Aug. 29, will include a new live-action series produced by Granada, “Brainiac,” in which a young team constructs elaborate, and often explosive, tests of scientific principles.

“It’s ‘MythBusters’ meets ‘Jackass,’ a little bit of science and a lot of craziness,” Mr. Green said. “They have a hypothesis and then they’ll try to prove it or disprove it-‘things you shouldn’t do with liquid oxygen’-and then they’ll go find out.”

Another new title is based on the Internet cartoon “Happy Tree Friends,” produced by Mondo Media. The series, called “Happy Tree Friends and Friends,” will include “Happy Tree Friends” shorts as well as other animated content acquired from various sources.

“We’re looking for the coolest, funniest and most outrageous animation we can find, and we’re getting it from everywhere-from online to submissions from art schools,” Mr. Green said.

The block will be rounded out by veteran G4 series “Anime Unleashed” and a new, more risqu%E9; spinoff of its “Cinematech” clip show series dubbed “Cinematech: Nocturnal Emissions.”

With the exception of “Cinematech,” the block is devoid of video game content. Recently, G4 acquired the rights to the short-lived “Fast and the Furious”-inspired Fox series “Fastlane,” also a nongamer show, to beef up its Whip Set programming block of automotive-themed programs.

Mr. Green said the network has several projects in the pipeline and hopes to expand the block.

“We wanted to get it on the air this fall because we had these new series,” Mr. Green said. “Our goal is to expand this block as we continue to acquire and produce this programming. I believe in the next 12 months G4 is going to make a lot of noise in terms of launching new programming and acquisitions.”

Last year Comcast bought out TechTV for $300 million and merged the network with G4. For a time, the combined channel used the moniker of G4techTV, then switched to G4 in January. The channel is now in 52 million homes and is part of the recently formed Comcast Ad Sales group, which includes E!, Style and OLN.

Mr. Green said he expects advertising benefits from the combined sales group to become more apparent within the next year.

“Comcast is saying, ‘We got all these networks, why not try to leverage our assets as one group?'” he said. “There’s some package deals being made now.”