NBCUniversal, Hearst Corp. Close Deal to Rebrand G4 as Esquire Channel

Esquire November 2012 Magazine Cover - P 2012

Esquire November 2012 Magazine Cover - P 2012

The move, which will look to court metrosexual viewers that History and Spike ignore, will include programming focused on gaming and lifestyle.

In its bid for the largely untapped metrosexual viewership, NBCUniversal is set to rebrand G4 channel as the Esquire channel.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the NBCUniversal-owned cable network has closed a deal with Esquire parent Hearst Corporation to shift the former gaming network to a destination more in line with the modern male. The effort is designed to capture a growing, upscale demographic that isn't being reached through other male networks, including adrenaline-heavy Spike and History. 

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Some of the new programming -- which will focus on such genres as cooking, travel and fashion -- already is in production as the rebrand is expected to take place during the first half of 2013, according to sources. True to the decade-old network's heritage, there will be gaming fare as well. 

An NBCU spokesperson declined comment.

The news comes nearly a year after NBCU cable entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer hired longtime NBC marketing executive Adam Stotsky to take the helm as general manager at G4. Earlier this fall, his team canceled the network's Attack of the Show! and X-Play, a move that followed press reports of the net's desire to include more than simply geek TV.

In exploring potential partners, NBCU had conversations with Hearst rival Conde Nast as well. For their part, NBC and Hearst Corp. have a history, having served as co-owners of A&E Networks as recently as this summer, when the former sold its 15.8 percent stake for $3.03 billion. Hearst maintains an ownership stake in the cable group, which includes Lifetime, A&E, History and Bio.

Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose