Venn, the streaming network hoping to be gaming culture’s answer to MTV, has raised $26 million to bring its mix of video game-themed entertainment and streaming celebrity features to the masses.
The financing came from previous investor Bitkraft, one of the largest funds focused on the intersection of gaming and synthetic reality, and new investor Nexstar Media Group, a publicly traded operator of regional television broadcast stations and cable networks around the U.S.
The investment from Nexstar gives Venn a toehold in local broadcast that could see the network’s shows appear on regular broadcast televisions in most major American cities, and adds to a roster of Nexstar properties, including CourtTV, Bounce and Ion Television. The company has over 197 television stations and a network of websites that average over 100 million monthly active users and 1 billion page views, according to a statement from Ben Kusin, Venn’s co-founder and chief executive.
“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,” Nexstar Media Group President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Thomas E. Carter said in a statement. “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.”
It’s unclear how much traction with younger audiences Venn has. The company’s YouTube channel has 14,000 subscribers and its Twitch Channel boasts a slightly more impressive 57.7K subscribers. Still, it’s early days for the streaming network, which only began airing its first programming in September.
Since its launch a little over a year ago, Venn has managed to poach some former senior leadership from Viacom’s MTV and MTV Music Entertainment Group, which has been the model the gaming-focused streaming network has set for itself, including Jeff Jacobs, the former senior vice president for production planning, strategies and operations at MTV’s parent company (Viacom) and most recently an independent producer for Viacom, the NBA, Global Citizen and ACE Universe.
Venn is currently available on its own website and various streaming services as well as through partnerships with the Roku Channel, Plex, Xumo, Samsung TV Plus and Vizio.
The company has also managed to pick up some early brand partnerships with companies including Subway, Draft Kings, Alienware, Adidas and American Eagle.