VENN (www.venn.tv), the live 24/7 streaming network for gaming and entertainment, announced today the close of a $26 million Series A financing. The round was co-led by Seed round investor BITKRAFT and new investor Nexstar Media Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: NXST). Eldridge, WISE Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, Josh Kroenke (Vice Chair of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment), and the majority of the existing Series Seed investor group also participated in the round. Under the terms of its investment, Nexstar secured content and sales category exclusivity for local television broadcasting and has the right to appoint a member to VENN’s Board of Directors.
“With this new funding round, VENN is positioned for its next phase of growth as we plan to further expand our content creation capabilities and continue to enhance the distribution of our ‘instant and everywhere’ viewing experience,” said Ben Kusin, VENN’s co-founder and co-CEO. “We’re proud to welcome Nexstar as an important strategic investor and exclusive local television partner as we leverage the national reach of their 197 television stations, related digital multicast signals, and expansive digital properties with over 100M MAU and 1B monthly page views in the United States.”
Nexstar Media Group President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Thomas E. Carter commented, “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 Series A, VENN is bolstering its leadership team with the addition of Jeff Jacobs as EVP & General Manager. Jacobs joins VENN from Viacom’s MTV and MTV Music and Entertainment Group, where he served as Executive in Charge of Production at MTV. Later, he became SVP Production Planning, Strategies and Operations for Viacom Media Networks’ Music and Entertainment Group’s linear and digital channels. Jacobs will concentrate on VENN’s growth and expansion while overseeing content and business operations. Most recently, Jacobs had been running a third-party production company which he co-founded and whose clients included Viacom, the NBA, Global Citizen and ACE Universe. That company was recently sold to EY-tech. Jacobs also ran production, digital and operations at NBC Sports and Olympics prior to joining Viacom.
“VENN is led by a team with deep experience in gaming and cable television. Jeff’s the latest talented leader to join our group, and he’s brought incredible value already in such a short period of time. He will play a significant role in the continuation of our network’s growth plan and content,” added Kusin. “Our premium programming, unparalleled production expertise, technology, studio build, and intimate market knowledge strongly positions VENN as a major player in gaming’s total addressable market.”
The series A close and leadership team expansion arrives as VENN is rapidly expanding its distribution network, led by the recent addition of its largest US distributor to date, The Roku Channel. With 40 million active accounts and built-in capabilities in roughly one third of all smart TVs sold, The Roku Channel enables VENN to reach a broader streaming audience.
This comes as VENN has quickly expanded its distribution to Plex’s 15 million users and LG’s 45 million households (powered by Xumo), in addition to Samsung TV Plus and VIZIO, further cementing the reach of the network’s content across various top level streaming platforms.
The universal distribution and ability to speak to the hard-to-reach gamer generation is also making VENN attractive to Madison Avenue and major global marketers. Subway, Draft Kings, Alienware, Adidas and American Eagle are among the brands who have entered into integration deals with VENN, with additional global brand partnerships to be announced.
Co-CEO and Co-Founder Ariel Horn added, “We are proud of our extraordinary team, who in the middle of a pandemic successfully launched VENN Beta and helped the network quickly reach this significant level of distribution. It’s been gratifying to see our guests having a blast talking, playing games and sharing communal moments with our viewers. We believe our new partnerships will dramatically expand our footprint going forward and bring VENN to the next level heading into 2021.”
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VENN is a live 24/7 network for gaming, streaming, esports and entertainment audiences. Launched in August 2020 and broadcasting live from Vista Studios in Los Angeles, VENN is universally distributed across a broad range of media platforms, creating a frictionless “watch everywhere, instantly” viewing experience for the digital generations. VENN offers original programming produced in-house and in partnership with some of the biggest names and creators across the gaming, pop culture and lifestyle spaces. More programming, content and distribution deals will be unveiled over the coming months. For additional information, visit www.venn.tv.
(Image) Source: Press release