VENN, a streaming network dedicated to gaming content, raised $26 million in a Series A round. VENN has received support from across the gaming industry, with early investors including Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, and Blizzard co-founder Michael Morhaime. This round was co-led by gaming VC BITKRAFT as well as Nexstar Media Group, a publicly traded company that owns 197 local stations across the U.S.
“Through our investment we plan to distribute VENN content across our broadcast platform to address a younger audience,” Nexstar President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Thomas E. Carter said in a statement. Both exclusive content on Nexstar platforms and additional distribution of existing programming are on the table.
Eldridge Industries, WISE Ventures (which is run by Minnesota Vikings ownership), and Alumni Ventures Group also contributed funding. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Los Angeles Rams, has invested as well.
VENN (Video Game Entertainment News Network) launched in August across Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and other platforms, airing 20 hours of original content each week—primarily from a studio in California—and planning to air close to 60 each week next year. It was founded by former gaming exec Ben Kusin and Ariel Horn, who previously worked at Riot and NBC Sports. Following early returns on Snapchat, Kusin and Horn said VENN will also be expanding its short form output in the months to come.
According to the company, VENN has already signed brand deals with Subway, Draft Kings, Adidas, and American Eagle. It could soon face competition in the space with the relaunch of G4, a Comcast-owned gaming channel that launched in 2002 and has teased a 2021 return.