G4 Renews Four Originals

Part of Comcast-owned network's successful shift to original programming
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Nearly a year after shifting its programming strategy away from stripped series and toward more original development, G4 is finally reaping the rewards of its investment.

Four of the originals to come out of the expanded development pipeline in 2009 will be returning for second seasons on the Comcast Entertainment Group cable channel. In March, the network will premiere new episodes of clip shows Web Soup and The International Sexy Ladies Show. Then come fall, the channel will bring back reality series Campus PD and competition series American Ninja Warrior.

In the network's most desired demo, men 18-34, both Campus PD (0.21 rating) and American Ninja Warrior (0.26) doubled the network's total day average rating.

The network will also be changing the focus slightly on those two shows. Campus PD, which follows life on college campuses and the public safety officers who keep them safe, will likely be going off-campus for its second season.

"We will be able to take advantage of the spring semester and spring break," says G4 President Neil Tiles.

Likewise, the second season of American Ninja Warrior will feature more personal information about the finalists to complement the competition itself. The network is also seeking an advertising partner to integrate into the series, and is targeting "performance" companies such as sneaker manufacturers and sports-drink makers.

"I think what we would like to try and do now is find a tie-in with an advertiser to help us bring exposure to the show off the network," Tiles says.

American Ninja Warrior is a spinoff of Ninja Warrior, a Japanese series that sees competitors race across a difficult obstacle course. Finalists in the U.S. version travel to Japan to compete on the original course.

G4 is also in development on a few other programs, targeting late 2010 debuts for whichever the network picks to pursue. G4 executives declined to provide details of the programs in question.

"Because so many shows worked for us in 2009, we are using a lot of our budget to simply reorder shows," Tiles says.

Last February, G4 said it would be cutting back on its signature stripped shows Attack of the Show and X-Play, and putting the money saved into new originals (see related: "G4 Going Underground for Newsmagazine"). The network shed some staff on those programs, and cut their frequency from five days a week to four and three days, respectively.

The network ended 2009 with its seventh consecutive year of growth in its target young male demos, and is beginning to carve a niche in terms of programming, blending geek-friendly fare like X-Play and Web Soup with more general entertainment shows like Campus PD and American Ninja Warrior.

It also positions the channel as a unique alternative to the other networks that target young men, like Comedy Central and Syfy, which will become a sister channel once Comcast completes its acquisition of NBC Universal.

"We don't have to put programming on that is to a specific content definition like comedy, or action, science-fiction or gaming," Tiles says. "We can do all of those so long as the audience finds it of interest to them."

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