G4TechTV’s Goal: Sub Growth

The “other” programming merger that wrapped up last week — combining G4 and TechTV — spawned G4TechTV, set to relaunch on May 28.

“The mission of G4 and TechTV will be to form one network that will take digital entertainment to the next level,” COO Debra Green said. “G4TechTV will be the only network plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes.”

An enlarged scope for Los Angeles-based G4 will yield about 80 additional jobs that will be offered first to the 285 employees of San Francisco-based TechTV. Two weeks ago those workers received 60 days’ notice of merger-induced layoffs.

G4 now has about 255 employees.

G4 CEO Charles Hirschhorn and senior vice president of programming Vinnie Longobardo retain those roles, while TechTV’s Gaynor Strachan Chun is the new senior vice president of marketing.

Comcast Corp.-owned G4 primarily acquired (for $300 million) TechTV’s nearly 40 million subscribers, bumping the combined entity to 44 million (including duplicated homes), bearing carriage deals with all major cable companies. The younger G4 had about 15 million subscribers.

Green doesn’t anticipate having to renegotiate affiliation deals. “The industry has been so supportive of this move that I would not call it a renegotiation, but possibly [contract] amendments so that they’re consistent throughout the industry.”

The focus is on growth within the affiliate ranks, on digital-basic tiers. “Our goal now that all of our affiliation agreements are in place is to work with the cable operator to encourage the growth of digital cable by promotion and marketing,” Green said. “It’s critical for us to work with the cable community to increase digital distribution.”

Come May 28, G4TechTV will be programmed evenly from the two present channels.

Production will continue on four TechTV series: Xplay, The Screen Savers, Fresh Gear and Unscrewed. The network also plans to air episodes of Anime Unleashed, Robot Wars, Invent This, Future Fighting Machines, Thunderbirds, Eye Drops, Body Hits and Nerd Nation.

G4 holdovers are Filter, Icons, Cheat, Sweat, Players, Arena, G4tv.com, Judgment Day, Cinematech, Electric Playground, Pulse and Portal.

“We’ve selected shows that have performed well on TechTV, and we’ll keep them in those time slots,” Green said.

The retained shows all target the desired demographic: men ages 18 to 34.

A fourth-quarter rebranding — when the programming lineup is solidified — could lead to a new name.

“We get to experiment a little to see what the viewer wants, what he likes, and then make some educated decisions as to what the network needs to look like,” Green said.

Video-on-demand product will continue to be offered, but there are no immediate plans to develop high-definition programming or make interactive enhancements.

“As technology changes within the business, so will we,” she said. “Right now, all I’m focused on is providing the best programming on the air and making sure that our distribution grows at a rapid pace.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.