The Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN), a 24-hour streaming channel that launched in August, lined up $26 million in Series A financing, the firm announced Tuesday.
Investors include Nexstar Media Group, BITKRAFT Ventures, WISE Ventures (parent company of Call of Duty League team Minnesota Rokkr), Alumni Ventures Group and Josh Kroenke, the vice chair of Kroenke Sports Entertainment. The Overwatch League's Los Angeles Gladiators and the Call of Duty League's Los Angeles Guerrillas are among the Kroenke company's holdings, which also include the Los Angeles Rams, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Rapids and Arsenal FC.
Thanks to its investment, Nexstar is guaranteed a spot on the VENN board of directors and exclusive local rights to air VENN content on its 197 television stations.
"With this new funding round, VENN is positioned for its next phase of growth as we plan to further expand our content creation capabilities and continue to enhance the distribution of our 'instant and everywhere' viewing experience," VENN co-founder and co-CEO Ben Kusin said in a statement.
Nexstar Media Group president and COO Thomas E. Carter said in a statement, "VENN is a new kind of TV network built for the streaming and digital generation, and it's developing leading-edge content for the millennial and Gen Z cultures who are obsessed with gaming.
"Gaming and esports are two fast growing sectors and through our investment we plan to distribute VENN content across our broadcast platform to address a younger audience; utilize VENN to gain early access to gaming-adjacent content; and present local and national brands with broadcast and digital marketing and advertising opportunities to reach younger audiences."
VENN also announced the hiring of Jeff Jacobs as executive vice president and general manager. He previously oversaw production at Viacom's MTV before becoming a senior vice president of linear and digital channels for Viacom Media Networks' Music and Entertainment Group.
Kusin said, "VENN is led by a team with deep experience in gaming and cable television. Jeff's the latest talented leader to join our group, and he's brought incredible value already in such a short period of time. He will play a significant role in the continuation of our network's growth plan and content."
--Field Level Media