Constant pivots, high costs and controversy bedeviled the directionless network in the lead-up to its collapse.
Long article by the notorious Nathan Grayson but worthy of a read.
Sounds like it was doomed from the start. Lots to digest in this article. Obviously some of this is going to be heated commentary from people who were otherwise seemingly happy. Even so, there are so many issues laid out in this article that I don't believe G4 ever had an honest chance back.
Among the multiple causes employees believe sunk G4, several ex-employees pointed to Tucker Roberts, son of billionaire Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and then-president of Comcast Spectacor’s gaming brand. While G4′s revival was largely the younger Roberts’s brainchild, former employees described him as fickle and absent. One employee familiar with Roberts’s decision-making said the executive would regularly change his mind about crucial decisions — for example, the number of separate YouTube channels G4 needed, which spread out audiences and hurt viewership, or the direction of the network’s esports coverage, which changed numerous times.
Roberts officially stepped away from G4 in March, just four months after G4 relaunched in full.
According to a former staffer, the network’s priorities would vary depending on which leader employees asked.
“There was never a clear viewership goal or platform to prioritize,” they said.
“We would sort of get momentum on trying to make a creative product, and we were like, ‘I think we’re finding our voice,’” said an ex-contractor. “But then we wouldn’t have funding anymore because it was too expensive, or [leadership was] like, ‘We care more about Twitch than YouTube today.’ ”
The analytics that constituted a metric for success would change regularly, according to G4 workers. Sometimes it was YouTube video views, other times it was concurrent viewers on Twitch. One week the network would mandate dozens of live hours on Twitch. A couple weeks later it would pivot fully away from Twitch, imperiling major productions like “Attack of the Show.”
“None of [the leaders] had any vision,” said one former employee. “They weren’t very present in day-to-day operations. We pivoted every time viewership was low. We never really gave our content time to gain traction. We were just constantly pivoting.”
Leadership’s belief, according to former employees, was that these guest appearances — along with sporadic appearances in featured slots on Twitch’s front page — would lead to increased sustained viewership. However, the practice just led some G4 shows to see atypical viewership spikes while others didn’t, according to multiple former employees.
“One thing would pop off because of someone popular, and that’s what the expectation would be for everything,” said a former contractor. “It wasn’t feasible.”
Big names, some of whom appeared on “Name Your Price,” Show’s recurring game show, made $10,000-$20,000 for brief appearances or “raids” — in which popular streamers like Imane “Pokimane” Anys would send their audiences to G4′s channel to boost its numbers — according to multiple former employees.
Even short visits by popular guests could be expensive. Steinkamp, according to a former employee with knowledge of these figures, was paid $20,000 for a two-hour call-in appearance on a G4 esports program.
Leadership changed again in 2022 as Arons departed in July following a contentious all-hands meeting in which she was lambasted by talent for a lack of transparency, failure to realize promised diversity initiatives and other issues. Ex-employees, who described Arons as a more consistent leader than Roberts, said she left the meeting in tears. Former G4 staffers perceived Arons’ rocky tenure as evidence she’d been set up to take the fall for Roberts.
“I think she bears some responsibility for the leadership, but I think she inherited an impossible situation from Tucker Roberts,” said a former employee. “I’m not surprised she resigned two weeks after that incident.”
Two former G4 staffers described complaints they filed to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office over contracts that failed to set terms around overtime pay and which, in one case, required a contractor to sign away their likeness rights in perpetuity.
On the Frosk blow up:
G4, according to multiple former employees, quietly deleted the tweet in support of Black’s segment and set the YouTube video of it to private. G4 did not mention the tweet nor the controversy publicly again.
Behind the scenes, Black wound up in a series of meetings with leadership, according to multiple former employees who worked with Black. But ultimately the message from G4 was that little could be done about the harassment on the network’s end, and she should file a local police report.
Khalil said he took no issue with the message of Black’s viral segment. However, he noted that when she tweeted, it led to lesser but still unpleasant harassment of other talent at G4. The situation put a strain on his relationship with Black, he said, though he denied claims from other former staff that he played a role in getting Black dismissed from her role later in the year.