VENN Gaming Network Raises $26M and New Distribution

VENN Gaming Network Raises $26M and New Distribution

VENN leveled up in its quest to become the 24/7 streaming network for gaming on Tuesday, announcing it has closed a $26 million Series A financing round. The Playa Vista-based company has also turbocharged its leadership and distribution network.

The Videogame Entertainment and News Network launched in August with $17 million in seed funding. That round was led by Bay Area gaming fund BITKRAFT, which also co-led the Series A — this time with Nexstar Media Group, a NASDAQ-listed telecoms company headquartered in Irving, Texas.

As part of its investment, Nexstar, which claims to reach nearly 63% of U.S. television households, received exclusivity for local television broadcasting and the right to appoint a member to VENN's board.

In a statement, Nexstar executive Thomas E. Carter said, "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."

In addition to the new financing, VENN announced Tuesday it will now be available on The Roku Channel, complementing its existing distribution channels, which include Plex; LG Channels, powered by Xumo; Samsung TV Plus; and VIZIO.

Similar distribution agreements have helped VENN attract advertising partners, including brands such as Subway, Draft Kings and Adidas.

Also announced Tuesday: Jeff Jacobs, formerly a production head at Viacom and MTV, and most recently president of a third-party production firm whose clients included Viacom and the NBA, has joined VENN as executive vice president and general manager. His responsibilities will focus on growth and expansion.

VENN broadcasts from its 8,000 square-foot studio space in Playa Vista. It was co-founded by Ben Kusin, formerly of Electronic Arts and Vivendi Games and son of GameStop co-founder Gary Kusin; and Ariel Horn, a pioneer of esports with experience at NBC Universal and Riot Games. He was also an early employee at Twitch.

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