Hearst, NBCUniversal Partner to Rebrand G4 as Esquire Network
Deal caps a year of discussion between the two companies.
NBCUniversal has partnered with Hearst's Esquire to relaunch its G4 cable channel, which previously focused on gadgets and gaming, as a network featuring a broader menu of male-related content.
For Hearst, the partnership resembles its branding strategy with the Scripps Networks' HGTV and Food Network, only in reverse.
"As [Hearst Magazines president] David Carey said throughout our negotiations, Hearst has learned a lot through HGTV and Food Network and even O, The Oprah Magazine about how they practice their business," says Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger. "He's mostly speaking about how the advertising and marketing teams can work together on big events and programs."
"The NBCUniversal guys approached David Carey and David Granger about a year ago," says Jack Essig, Esquire's senior vice president, publishing director and chief revenue officer. "Their interest stemmed from research they did around this great white space around men and TVâ€”with guys going in and out of several different networks. Why not rebrand the G4 network to be a one-stop-shop around those needs?"
Essig and Granger declined to offer any financial details on the partnership.
Viewership is currently reaching 62 million homes.
Programming will expand from gear, gaming and tech to also include entertainment, food, fashion, women, travel and more.
The network will re-launch in April. Esquire.com will feature a channel dedicated to the network and the Esquire Network's website itself will be relaunched to feature original web series and will be linked back to Esquire.com.
Essig adds that the two companies' sales teams have been working in tandem to build a launch packageâ€”identifying each other's best advertisers and similar categories.
Sales between the two will be a collaborative effort, and Essig notes that Esquire now has the ability to offer a third platform to the sales mix. "Often we get these RFPs for big, never-been-done-before ideas and now we can do that," he says. "We have access for packaging those into several bigger deals."
On the content side, Granger says regular programming meetings are held to determine whether there are opportunities for Esquire material to be turned into TV content. "We go over what's coming up in the magazine and brief them on what might be potential opportunities, as well as ideas unrelated to Esquire stories that might be of interest to them."
Esquire's 80th anniversary this fall may be an opportunity for a dedicated special. "We're already working on the editorial elements. We've briefed them on what we're doing and they're taking that to a few documentary filmmakers to see if they can come up with a concept for a special," says Granger.
For now, the network is planning Esquire-based interstitial content to be used between shows. One is the video extension of the magazine's popular Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman series.