Welcome to the Blade Weekly Re-Brand, a place for us to take a quick look at some of the rebranding going on in the world and give a quick impression of what went right and what went wrong.
This week, we turn our eyes towards G4TV, which has announced that on September 23rd it will rebrand itself the Esquire Network.
What was wrong with the old G4?
Specialty cable networks are a fickle business, and while the HBOs of the world remain relatively unchanged over time, smaller networks can often end up chasing the latest fad. See, for example, The Nashville Network, a country music station, which became Spike TV (The First Channel for Men™) which focused on wrestling and reruns of Star Trek, and eventually blossomed into Spike (dropping the ‘TV’ part) and now focuses on wrestling and reruns of CSI.
Similarly, G4TV started out as TechTV, a general technology channel, before slowing moving to being primarily video game focused and changing its name to G4TV. Since these smaller channels are chasing larger and larger demographics in the face of ever stronger competition (especially from online content), these types of shifts in content are inevitable. So common are they, in fact, that they merit their own entry in TV Tropes: Network Decay.
Does the new version fix the problem?
The old TechTV was a more general interest channel than the current G4TV – Lots of people are interested in technology, and only a subset of those people are interested in video games. The shift towards video games likely helped solidify a smaller portion of the viewership, while losing a wider audience. The change to the Esquire Network may help to bring in new viewers, though at a loss of programming focus.
What new problems are introduced?
The first is obvious, as with any rebrand this major: Alienating the current brand community. G4TV is a channel for video game enthusiasts. Esquire Network is a channel for men in general. This creates an obvious disconnect with the current brand community who tune in to see primarily video game related content (though some network decay in the form of reality game shows has already been sinking in for some time).
“Esquire Network will expand on G4’s foundation of games, gear and gadgets to reflect the broad range of interests, passions and aspirations that define men today.”
Esquire Network Press Release.
Another problem is that the move to a more general interest channel format is that while they may grab a larger piece of the pie, the audience will likely be less dedicated to the channel in particular. Part of the plan involves a move to showing reruns of popular sitcoms (Parks and Recreation and Party Down are named in the press release), a fairly big departure for a video game themed channel, but people love reruns. At least, that’s what cable channels have been trying to convince me of for years.
Is it an overall success?
I’m sure the move to a more general interest channel is very calculated, as is the tie-in with Esquire magazine. At the very least, the name lends some credibility to the channel for fans of the magazine. At the same time, it’s disappointing to see another special interest channel fall to catering to the lowest common denominator. Does anyone else remember when The History Channel focused on actual history, or am I just becoming That Guy?