News

Comcast Net To Play In Video Game Arena

12/02/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

Comcast Corp. will roll out G4 — its new video-games network — next April, with a commitment for 7 million homes, officials said.

The 24-hour channel, officially unveiled by Comcast executives at last week's Western Show here, will proffer entertainment, news and information for video-game enthusiasts, particularly targeting "young men and teens with money."

In addition to Comcast systems, G4 will launch in Insight Communications Co. markets next spring.

Comcast expects to invest roughly $150 million in G4 over the next four years, as the company uses the service to expand its programming portfolio. Comcast already owns all or some of programmers QVC, Comcast SportsNet, The Golf Channel, Outdoor Life Network and E! Entertainment Television, as well as Philadelphia sports-franchise and arena owner Comcast-Spectacor.

Comcast and G4 executives said the network, which Multichannel News
reported Aug. 6, is aimed at Americans who spend $8 billion a year on games for consoles, computers, online, cell phones and personal data assistants. Its content will be a mix of original series and programs produced by video-game manufacturers.

Thirteen weekly series and specials are in development; the topics and talent are expected be announced in February. "Infomercial" programming produced by the game industry will be used to fill out G4's overnight hours, executives said.

"This is not a barker channel for video games," said Comcast vice president of programming investments Amy Banse.

Although Comcast owns 100 percent of the channel, equity deals, launch support and a low rate card are among the enticements executives will present to potential affiliates. Affiliates can also choose whether to position G4 on their analog or digital tiers.

"Whatever is best for the operator," Banse said.

G4's executive team includes Charles Hirschhorn — the former president of Walt Disney Television and Television Animation, who is founder and CEO of G4 Media — and E! Entertainment Television veterans Debra Green, G4's COO, and Dale Hopkins, its senior vice president of affiliate and ad sales. Other officials are veterans of MTV Networks, All Games Network and Sony Computer Entertainment.

Unlike the late, unsuccessful Sega Channel, G4 will not offer interactive gaming. Instead the content will include "what's hot" previews, "making of" documentaries, competitions and news tips.

"With Sega, even installation was a problem," Hirschhorn said. "This is a traditional cable network."

The venture anticipates adding another 2.5 million to 5 million cable homes by the end of 2002.

"We've been selling this for two weeks and the response has been terrific," Green said.

The channel's corporate Web site (www.G4media.com) is already online. The consumer site, G4TV.com, will launch concurrently with the channel.

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