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Comcast shutting down digital network G4

The logo of video game channel G4. (Image: Comcast/Graphic: The Desk)

Comcast Spectator is closing down its online pop culture channel G4 less than one year after its relaunch, The Desk has learned.

On Sunday, Comcast Spectator officials finalized a memo that was to be circulated to employees this upcoming week, in which the company’s chief executive said the channel didn’t resonate with pay television viewers as once hoped.

“Over the past several months, we worked hard to generate that interest in G4, but viewership is low and the network has not achieved sustainable financial results,” the memo written by Spectator CEO David Scott said. “This is certainly not what we hoped for, and, as a result, we have made the very difficult decision to discontinue G4’s operations, effective immediately.”

It was not clear when the channel will officially close. G4 was still airing scheduled shows as of Sunday evening, and many pay television systems were still showing information about upcoming programs well into the middle of the week.

The channel relaunched under Comcast’s Spectator subsidiary last year after being teased at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2020. The brand hoped to achieve the same level of notoriety and status as its predecessor, with programs like “Attack of the Show!” and “SMOSH” leading the line-up.

But much of the programming aired on the channel looked like it could have aired on any number of public access channels across the United States or, at the very best, streamed on YouTube. Fittingly, Comcast Spectator did have carriage agreements with Amazon’s streaming service, Twitch, as well as streaming services YouTube TV and Philo.

Still, the reincarnation of G4 failed to attract an audience, and the channel struggled financially, according to a person familiar with its operation. In his memo, Scott said he understood the channel’s closure was “disappointing news, and I’m disappointed, too.”

“Our human resources team is reaching out to you to provide you with support, discuss other opportunities that may be available, and answer any questions you may have,” Scott wrote.

Many employees learned that they were out of a job when a draft copy of the memo began to circulate on Twitter. The story was later picked up by some entertainment industry trade publications late Sunday evening.

The closure of the channel continues a trend at Comcast in which the media giant has wound down some of its linear cable and satellite channels in favor of its streaming platform, Peacock.

Last year, Comcast announced it would pull the plug on its national sports network, NBCSN. A handful of sports events were shuffled around its other cable networks, including USA and CNBC, but the overwhelming majority of its sports line-up moved to Peacock.

In July, Comcast said it would close the Olympic Channel, a domestic version of the channel operated by the International Olympic Committee. The channel stopped broadcasting last month.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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