G4 dropped a little buzz bomb in the midst of last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, with a cryptic tease hinting that the groundbreaking network, which for legions of fans elevated gaming and geekdom to a higher plane of of pop culture status, would be returning to television after airing its last broadcast late in 2014.
Now the newly-resurrected network is closing in on an actual launch date for later this year, and some of the key creatives who’re making it happen are beginning to talk about what to expect. If you’re a fan of old-school G4 mainstays like the gaming-focused X-Play or the live news/variety daily Attack of the Show!, there’s reason to celebrate: G4 has confirmed that both those series will be coming back under the network’s new programming lineup, and — just as before — they’ll serve up tech and gaming news with a generous side of funny.
“Everything has a definitive voice and point of view. Everything is rooted in comedy,” Blair Herter, G4’s head of brand and a familiar face to longtime fans, recently explained to SYFY WIRE. “We like to say around the office, ‘G4 really is a comedy brand with a gaming problem.’ You know what you get with those shows. Regardless of how the content launches and how it evolves, we always endeavor with those shows to make sure you know what you’re getting when you give us that hour, or two or three hours, of your time.”
G4 isn’t ready to offer up a specific launch date, only teasing the lights will come back on sometime this summer. But head of content Kevin Sabbe stresses that relaunching the network didn’t require a big creative reimagining, because the content foundation with strong shows like AOTS! — a roller-coaster comedy variety hour that served as the network’s flagship program and became appointment viewing for many fans during the days when Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn were at the helm — was already so solid in the first place.
“Over the years and more recently, there’s been a lot of [talk about], ‘The next G4; the next G4’ — and there really is only one G4, for now and the future, and that’s what this is,” explains Sabbe. “…[I]n terms of tone, voice, and especially being comedically driven — that’s the definition of what G4 is, and there’s really no comparison or competitor. That’s the thing we’re being very strategic about bringing forward into the next generation of G4 — which I hate even saying, because this isn’t a reboot; this isn’t a re-imagination: this is G4 as you knew and love G4, but it’s just 2021 instead of 2012.”
“We equate this as someone pushed a ‘pause’ button on G4 a few years back, and we’re just ‘unpausing’ it,” adds Herter. “Because it probably never should have gone away. [The relaunch] just made sense, and if it was gonna come back, it really should be led by the people who know gaming and eSports from the ground up.”
The network hasn’t unveiled a casting lineup for X-Play or Attack of the Show! yet. But Sabbe says fans who’ve been pining for the chance to see G4 veterans like former X-Play hosts Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb, as well as other big names like Pereira, Munn, Alison Haislip, and even Herter himself, will probably get their wish at some point, as the network finds its footing across cable, social channels, Discord, TikTok, and pretty much anywhere else where its audience already gathers.
“I can say very generally, the outpouring of support and interest from the original G4 talent and cast has been overwhelming,” he confesses. “The reunion special we did late last year in the midst of COVID was triumphant for us, right? Blair was on speed dial with everybody from the old cast, and everybody wanted to be a part of this in some way.
“As we look forward, expect participation in some way, shape, or form from everyone from the old cast at some point. We’re being very, I’d say, ‘open’ to what works for them. They’ve all gone to different points in their lives and their careers. Some of them have other things, whether it’s families or other interests. The door’s open, and I’d say, expect to see them enter it — but I couldn’t say that like, ‘this person is coming back for this [show]’ until a little bit further down the road. There’s a lot of surprises we have, not only from the original talent, but from talent that reflects the gaming space of 2021: content creators, comedians. We’ve really done an exhaustive search of people who [want to be a part of G4].”
So far, at least one fresh face already has been added to the new G4 mix: WWE star and popular Twitch streamer Xavier Woods (aka Austin Creed), whom the network revealed as its first new addition late last year. But fans will have to wait and see where Woods will end up in the programming lineup — though if history is any indicator, it could be in more than one place.
Back in the day, one of the network's big strengths was how nimbly it caught on to the newest trends in gaming, in tech, in internet comedy and the overall pop culture zeitgeist (“At the previous version of G4, we launched the Twitter wall like a month into Twitter [itself],” Herter recalls.) But how will that play out in 2021, when people aren’t only watching cable — and, indeed, when many may have even cut the cord?
“I’d say, without revealing too much, that it’s gonna be the G4 and the Attack of the Show! and the X-Play you know and love — but we know the world’s changed,” says Sabbe. “So how those things come to life, I think, will very much look the same, and also very much feel current… you can’t take a TV show and put it on a live streaming network; you can’t take a sketch and throw it onto TikTok.
“So a lot of the content we’re making is gonna be bespoke for those distribution points, because it is going to be a wider-reaching network. We’re gonna be everywhere our fans are. And you’re probably gonna be getting, I would say, a different flavor of G4 depending on where you’re watching it.”
(G4 and SYFY are both owned by NBCUniversal.)