DirecTV drops Comcast's G4 in latest tussle between media giants
DirecTV has pulled the plug on G4, the Comcast-owned channel that caters to young men with a mix of programming about video games and pretty girls.
The move was not unexpected. Back in September DirecTV gave Comcast notice that it was dropping the channel when their current deal expired at the end of the month. Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, was able to persuade DirecTV to extend the contract through October in the hopes of reaching a new pact.
But DirecTV, which has about 19 million subscribers, thinks interest in G4 is too small to justify carriage. The satellite broadcaster's new Chief Executive Mike White has indicated that he wants to find a way to cut programming costs and to reevaluate what channels are essential and what ones can be cut loose.
Comcast has countered that G4's ratings have been on the rise and that the company has offered DirecTV the same deal it has had to carry the network for the last few years. G4 had cost DirecTV about five cents per subscriber, per month, according to people familiar with the agreement.
This is not the first time DirecTV and Comcast have feuded over a channel. In 2009, DirecTV stopped carrying Versus, Comcast's sports channel and that dispute lasted seven months and included name-calling between the two media giants.
Given that Comcast, the nation's No. 1 cable operator, is in the process of trying to acquire programming giant NBC Universal -- a deal that rival distributors such as DirecTV have concerns about -- one might wonder if the situation involving G4 is an isolated incident. Comcast has a sports channel in Philadelphia that it does not offer satellite distributors. There are also certain conditions that rival media companies want put on the Comcast-NBC merger. Perhaps DirecTV really doesn't think G4 is worth five cents a subscriber or perhaps there is a bigger agenda at play here.
For now, DirecTV has not said what it will replace G4 with and viewers are created with a message telling them the channel has moved.
-- Joe Flint
For the record: This post was updated to reflect what DirecTV is telling subscribers about G4 and that Comcast's Philadelphia sports channel is offered to rival cable and telco distributors but not satellite broadcasters such as Dish and DirecTV.