G4 tries to keep men's attention


Young-male viewers have "fundamentally left" linear television, but cable network G4 is working to overcome this by keeping that demo engaged in the brand with an assortment of interactive programming, G4 president Neal Tiles said Tuesday.

Tiles, speaking during the Museum of Television & Radio's Industry Forum Luncheon in Beverly Hills, said G4's deals with its affiliates don't allow it to offer full-length episodes of shows online and that nonlinear media is not yet at a stage where it can be monetized. So G4 is focusing its efforts on its linear programming, looking to keep the interest of young-male viewers with highly interactive shows.

"We're allowing viewers to influence content — it's not user-generated content, but letting viewers influence the content so we retain some control, and it's more enjoyable than when viewers are 100% in control," Tiles said.

Such programming includes the interactive series "Star Trek 2.0," where viewers can play the "Spock Market" real-time stock exchange, learn obscure facts that are streamed during the episode and chat about the show, and the upcoming "Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0." Tiles said G4 is looking to do something similar with its recent acquisition, "Cops," as well.

Tiles added that studying how the network's target demo of males 18-34 consumes media — on multiple platforms — offers an insightful peek into the future.

"It's akin to peering into the future because this is how every demo is going to be consuming media in the future," he said. "It's a valuable learning lesson."

He pointed out that new media are influencing the way deals are done, citing the acquisition of "Arrested Development" as an example. G4, HDNet and MSN in July licensed rights to the off-network comedy for a three-year period that started in September. Tiles pointed out that MSN paid higher license fees than either network.

"This is the groundbreaking reality of where media is going," he said.

Tiles added that G4 is looking more and more to outside producers and is planning to "step up to be in the price range of other networks" it competes against, like Spike TV and Comedy Central.

The next speaker at the museum's luncheon series will be Andrea Wong, executive vp alternative programming, specials and late-night at ABC Entertainment, on Feb. 1.