Recently-launched esports network VENN raises $26m - Dexerto
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Recently-launched esports network VENN raises $26m

Published: 20/Oct/2020 14:33 Updated: 21/Oct/2020 9:59

by Adam Fitch

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VENN, a gaming and esports television that launched on August 5, has raised $26 million in investment.

The Series A funding round was led by BITKRAFT Ventures, a venture capital firm founded by ESL and G2 Esports co-founder Jens Hilgers. Television and media company Nexstar Media Group has also invested in the network.

Nexstar Media Group is said to be the largest owner of television stations in the entire United States, which perhaps signals that VENN is prioritizing mainstream adoption instead of building up a major viewership base on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

Interestingly, WISE Ventures — the parent company of Call of Duty League franchise Minnesota ROKKR and Rocket League brand Version1 — also participated in the funding.

VENN's The Download show
VENN
The Download is one of VENN’s main content offerings.

With live studios in New York and Los Angeles, the gaming and esports network is looking to become the home of “streamers, casters, content creators, esports athletes” through “engaging and innovative formats.”

In the first month of trying to become the premier destination of content for gamers and esports fans, VENN achieved a peak viewership of 14.2K on Twitch, according to Esports Charts.

It dropped in the last week of August — reaching an average viewership of 216 people. It’s worth noting that the network also uploads VODs of its content, which includes topical talk shows and a daily news offering.

VENN's co-founders Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin
VENN
VENN’s co-founders Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin are no strangers to gaming and esports.

Another big move for VENN is the appointment of Jeff Jacobs, a former NBC Sports veteran that joins as executive vice president and general manager. He will oversee an expansion for the network in terms of their content and business operations in hopes of making it more prominent among the bustling gaming fan base.

For now, it’s clear that there’s a long road ahead of VENN for it to reach the lofty ambitions of the founders, but raising $26m is certainly a good pot of cash to work with.

FIFA

Leeds United partners with NiP to start FIFA team in the ePremier League

Published: 2/Dec/2020 17:00

by Adam Fitch

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English professional football club Leeds United have established a partnership with longstanding esports organization Ninjas in Pyjamas.

The alliance centers around FIFA — specifically for the third season of the ePremier League, the official esports league associated with the top flight of English football.

Leeds United have joined the ePremier League after being promoted to the Premier League for the 2020/21 season.

At the time of publication, Ninjas in Pyjamas have one FIFA player; Swedish player Olle ‘Ollelito’ Arbin joined the organization in February 2020.

Ollelito Ninjas in Pyjamas FIFA
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Ninjas in Pyjamas entered FIFA in February 2020 by signing Ollelito.

The ePremier League was confirmed to return for its third season on November 26. It has a combined prize purse of £40,000 across PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and will see FIFA players represent Premier League clubs.

“Promotion to the Premier League has given the club some amazing opportunities so far with involvement in the ePremier League the latest chance for the club to grow and impress,” said Leeds United’s executive director Paul Bell.

“Just as Marcelo has done with the men’s first team, we intend on making our presence in the league known and being competitive straight away, creating a partnership with NiP will give us a fantastic foundation to do so. Bring it on.”

The competition starts with online qualification in January 2021, with representatives for each team competing to see who will advance to online playoffs. In-person finals are expected to take place in the spring, though dates are yet to be confirmed.

The ePremier League finals will once again be broadcast across Sky Sports, Premier League’s digital channels, and EA SPORTS’ FIFA channel on Twitch.

In the second season of the tournament, Watford emerged victorious with Tom ‘Hashtag Tom’ Leese taking the top spot and the £20,000 first-place prize. Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Liverpool rounded out the top four finishers.