April 13, 2019; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; An overview of Team Liquid and TSM during the spring finals of the League of Legends Championship series at the Chaifetz Arena. (Photo: Jeff Curry / USA TODAY Sports) (Photo: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
I want my VENN?
Video game and e-sports fans may soon have their own MTV or ESPN media.
Video Game Entertainment & News Network (VENN), due to debut next year with live studios in New York and Los Angeles, aims to be an online video house for esports and gaming culture.
Scheduled to air 24 hours a day, VENN will be available as a mobile and streaming app with channels in today's video and e-sports destinations like Twitch and YouTube. VENN also plans to be present on live streaming services such as Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu and PlutoTV, as well as social networks like Snapchat and TikTok.
"We are creating a unique media brand in the Gaming, Entertainment and GenZ + Millennial nexus in a highly fragmented video market," said Ben Kusin, a video game veteran formerly at Electronic Arts and Vivendi Games, who is co-ECO of new venture with Ariel Horn, a former producer of NBC Sports (winner of four Emmys) and executive of Riot Games.
The Video Game Entertainment & News Network logo, launched in 2020. (Photo: Video Game Entertainment & News Network)
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Viewers can get a monthly subscription that will earn them "enhanced viewing experiences," but VENN plans plenty of free content to watch.
"We are a universal network with the goal of being everywhere that our audience is consuming content and yet it is consuming content," said Kusin. "Long form, short form, live, on demand, on social networks. Our network will be free to view on all platforms. Our own OTT will have value-added offers, including a more interactive experience. But we are not blocking the content at all. "
The network's co-CEOs announced $ 17 million in initial funding and some of their investors, including Kevin Lin, Twitch co-founder, Marc Merrill, Riot Games co-founder, Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment co-founder, and Amy Morhaime, former head of global sports at Blizzard.
Kusin says earlier this year he launched Merrill the idea of a TV network focused on video games, esports and gaming culture and entertainment. "He laughed, let me know that his old global EP in Riot (Ariel) had just come up with a similar concept earlier in the day and said he would feel better supporting the project if we come together," Kusin said.
Co-CEOs of the Video Game Entertainment & News Network (VENN) due for release in 2020 are Ben Kusin, a former video game veteran at Electronic Arts and Vivendi Games on the left, and Ariel Horn, a former producer of NBC Sports ( winner of four Emmys) and executive of Riot Games. (Photo: Co-CEOs of Video Game Entertainment & News Network (VENN))
The task of catching Horn, who was returning to New York that day, "two blown red lights, a fatal meeting and seven months later, here we are announcing VENN together," said Kusin.
In addition to simply providing a new home for the esports and game broadcast competition, VENN will also create content to engage more video game fans as well as hardcore gamers.
"E-sports has historically catered almost exclusively to audiences who play the game at a high level. This makes it extremely difficult for outsiders, even avid gamers, to adopt the jargon and complex strategy," Horn said. "We will consciously receive a wider audience through subtly broader coverage, such as targeting programs to narrow the divide."
Also expect "expanded entertainment" content such as Imagine the video clip of Dragon "Warriors,"created for the 2014 League of Legends World Championship and the fictional K-Pop K / DA group and their video "Pop / Star" for last year's championship.
"Remember that we are focusing only a fraction of our attention on e-sports coverage, with most focused on uploading and translating to television other game formats that are rapidly gaining traction on YouTube and Twitch," Horn said. .
Now is the time for a network or player that can "significantly raise the bar for video content in games and e-sports. We need to raise the stars and stories in our community and provide a better and greater opportunity for brands to reach players. "he said. Jens Hilgers, founding partner of the BITKRAFT e-sports investment fund, which co-led VENN's funding round.
Big day today, when we announce our biggest single investment to date: VENN – a 24/7 post-cable network for gaming, sports and entertainment audiences. Founded by the legendary @ArielHorn and Ben Kusin! https://t.co/AOMw1p0LOD
– BITKRAFT Esports (@BITKRAFTEsports) September 17, 2019
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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