Recently-launched esports network VENN raises $26m

Adam Fitch
VENN hosts The Download

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

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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
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’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.