Boss Rush Banter: Why Don’t Video Games Work on Network TV?

With the announcement of the relaunch of G4 shutting down, it feels like another real world strike against our favorite hobby. A channel dedicated to video games seemingly never makes it past “underground” status or only ever gains a cult following. But why is that? For a billion dollar industry that garners fans, new genres of entertainment, and a crazy level of hype for damn near everything, that money never seems to trickle into the pockets of the right people. So, why don’t video games work on traditional network TV?

Let’s get the easy scapegoat out of the way. Not to sound like Joe Lieberman in a time capsule, but content certainly has something to do with it. While violence catches more hell than sexual content, you can’t really show either after a Super Mario marathon. Ask any advertiser if they want their product to be linked with a Mortal Kombat fatality. The risks of sponsoring someone who features a more violent product are a lot greater than sponsoring someone who features Roblox all day.  Odds are, there’s not much of a waiting list to be a big supporter for almost anything with an age restriction.

You also have this weird caveat of what kind of content you try to feature. This is probably just the weirdest thing about gamers in general–the fact that there are so many different kinds of content that sprout from the general topic of “video game”. There are gameplay videos that are silent, gameplay videos with narration and strategy, and gameplay videos with narration that has nothing to do with the game they’re playing. You have hosts who cover deep and heavy issues of the industry, hosts who cover a theme in gaming, and hosts who just cover one game for the entire life of their channel. To try and boil all this down into a schedule to catch whatever market share makes this a scattered target market you will never really pin down. 

And this is just for one channel on one platform. When you bring the competition that only relates to video games, it’s like trying to win the Tour de France on a stationary exercise bike, you ain’t going nowhere! For simplicity of the argument, let’s limit the competition to YouTube and Twitch, not counting the hot tub streams. For every show idea or game exhibition, there’s probably a channel that dedicated an entire playthrough back in 2017 with the exact same idea. Do you have an exclusive interview or the debut of a new trailer? Give it three days, the publisher gave out a bunch of codes that’ll be showing up everywhere else at any moment. And not to belittle readers with the most basic of facts, but if I’m charging for my channel, and there’s a close-enough substitute somewhere on a free platform, I am falling under water faster than a custom made anchor business in a landlocked state.

I know that this is a lot deeper than my usual nonsense of “What if Mario was voiced by Don Knotts?”, but it lends a greater scope to how the rest of “serious” industries view video games, and so far, it’s not that good. Unless a media conglomerate starts accepting passion as a form of currency, we may be stuck in this holding pattern for a while.  

What do you think? Will we ever see a successful video game channel? Let’s work this out on the Boss Rush Discord.

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The Boss Rush Podcast

The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Friday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.

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