In Comcast-DirecTV talks over new G4 deal, there’s no playing around

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Looks like satellite broadcaster DirecTV and cable giant Comcast Corp. are headed toward another throw-down.

At issue this time around is G4, the Comcast-owned channel that caters to young men with shows about video games, gaming culture and, of course, pretty girls. Its programs include ‘Attack of the Show,’ a daily look at gadgets, bizarre lifestyles and fetishes that is hosted by Kevin Pereira and it girl Olivia Munn; ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ a competition show; and ‘The International Sexy Ladies Show,’ whose title is fairly self-explanatory.


But it’s not all sex and games at G4. Last month, the network announced a more serious show: ‘Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan,’ a reality version of ‘The Hurt Locker,’ will follow soldiers who dismantle explosive devices. ‘Bomb Patrol,’ which is being done in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, is set to debut next year.

G4’s current deal with DirecTV expires at the end of this month. Last week, G4 took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times touting the network’s ratings success with young men that seemed to be aimed squarely at DirecTV, which happens to be based in El Segundo.

DirecTV pays about five cents per subscriber, per month to Comcast for G4, a person familiar with the deal said.

In a statement, a G4 spokeswoman said, ‘G4 offered DirecTV the same basic deal we have had for the past three years. However they still plan to drop the network and deny G4 fans the only network that focuses on the popular gaming lifestyle.’

DirecTV would confirm only that it is in talks with Comcast about G4. It declined to elaborate on the tenor of the talks. The squabble between the two companies is about to go even more public: Monday afternoon, it will be a topic of discussion on ‘Attack of the Show.’ Updated at 4:15 p.m.: G4 opted not to use ‘Attack of the Show’ as a platform to makes its case against DirecTV.
This is not the first time DirecTV and Comcast have tussled over a contract. In 2009, DirecTV stopped carrying Versus, Comcast’s sports channel, when the two sides were unable to strike a new deal. That spat lasted seven months and included name-calling between the two media giants.

But when Mike White joined DirecTV as chief executive last year, one of the first things he oversaw was the brokering of a new deal for Versus, which was reached last March. In an interview earlier this summer, White indicated he was reluctant to get into the business of dropping channels.


‘It’s like a strike in the NFL. It doesn’t help the game. It doesn’t help anybody,’ White said.

With Comcast in the process of trying to get its $30-billion merger with NBC Universal through lawmakers and regulators in Washington, the last thing it needs is a blowout with one of its biggest competitors. DirecTV may be betting that it can squeeze Comcast into a more favorable deal.

G4 is not the only sore spot between the two companies. DirecTV is still smarting that Comcast won’t give the satellite broadcaster access to SportsNet Philadelphia, its sports channel that carries the 76ers, Flyers and Phillies.

-- Joe Flint