VENN Discloses New Programming, Expansion of Strategy in 2021
VENN, the Video Game Entertainment and News Network, has announced its first round of new content for the 2021 season as well as plans for a consolidated vertical-based approach in its overall strategy.
The network will pick up broadcasts from new leagues and drive awareness through global distribution, partner with prominent personalities within gaming to elevate new and existing formats, and increase short form production initiatives for platforms such as YouTube. Designed to live within the intersection of gaming and entertainment, VENN will roll-out new programming that revolves around three centralized verticals – esports, core gaming and pop culture.
“At launch, we quickly outpaced our expectations on distribution, including early deals with Samsung, Roku, Nexstar, MSN, and soon to announce international expansion initiatives in 40+ countries worldwide” says VENN co-founder Ariel Horn. “In 2021 our top priority is increasing brand awareness and resonance amongst core gamers. In addition to our existing brand of crossover lifestyle content, we are expanding to focus around deeper core gaming topics and doubling down on esports partnerships. Everything we are announcing today, paired with our core programming such as The Download and Guest House will help achieve that goal and set ourselves up for continued success in 2021”.
The news comes following a busy close to 2020 which was highlighted by its $26 million Series A round, co-led by Nexstar Inc. and seed round investor BITKRAFT. This was in addition to increased distribution through deals with Nexstar, The Roku Channel, Plex, LG (powered by Xumo), and smart TVs including Samsung TV Plus and VIZIO.
The network also expanded its footprint internationally through partnerships with Samsung and esports entertainment company BLAST to help stream/produce its tournaments. The first production under that arrangement recently aired to a live concurrent viewership of 689k, an all-time record for CS:GO.
“We are fortunate to have a very engaged audience that has made clear the type of content and programming that is most impactful to them,“ says Aaron Godfred, SVP Originals. “Partnering with this group of world-class creators and properties for new series will not only resonate with our base, but also bring VENN another step forward in our quest to deliver ambitious, distinct gaming content to a global audience.”
Among the new Original Programming starting this Winter include:
- FAN CONTROLLED FOOTBALL (FCF.io) – It’s smashmouth football on a 50 yard indoor gridiron with just one little catch – The fans get to call the plays! Star studded athletes and influencers, including Quavo, Johnny Manziel, Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Trevor May, and internet sensation Bob Menery team up to bring the league to life. It all kicks off February 13th on VENN’s linear distribution channels including Samsung, The Roku Channel, Vizio, and many others. “The heart of FCF is reinventing live sports for the digital age. VENN’s founders have been at the forefront of the esports movement and we couldn’t be more excited to team up with them to help merge traditional football with unparalleled fan interactivity” says Patrick Dees, Co Founder & Chief Gaming Officer of Fan Controlled Football.
- FACECHECK – The biggest, baddest and most controversial League of Legendsesports talk show around, Facecheck, arrives on VENN! Former LCS pro player Christian “IWDominate” Rivera hosts along with Nick “LS” De Cesare (Seoul, KR based streamer for T1 and a former caster for the English LCK broadcast) and VENN’s very own Daniel “dGon” Gonzales, a former host and shoutcaster for Riot Games’ LCS, Snoop Dogg’s GGL, ESL and Dreamhack. Each week, this team of League insiders breaks down and debates the games, reviews the highlights and calls out the lowlights. Nothing is off limits for Facecheck, only on @VENNesports on YouTube.
- ORIGIN STORIES – Origin Stories captures exclusive interviews with celebrities, gaming content creators, esports titans and leading video game execs. Hosted by Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez, the founder and CEO of storied esports org OpTic Gaming, every episode focuses on the guest’s journey to greatness – from the mistakes to the victories, and everything along the way. “Esports and gaming have crossed over into popular culture, and I’m excited to partner with VENN to share the ORIGIN STORIES of those that made it happen”, said Rodriguez. The series gets to the core story of gaming phenoms and trailblazers for a no-holds-barred one-on-one interview around innovators and the empire they’ve built, with the first guest being the Global Head of YouTube Gaming, Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt.