VENN (Video Game Entertainment and News Network) has unveiled a slate of original live shows as it prepares to launch in beta August 5 with pop culture and gaming talent broadcasting from its new Los Angeles studios.
The network is aimed at “the streaming generation, raised at the intersection of gaming and entertainment” and will “speak directly to Gen Z and Millennial audiences,” VENN said.
Programming will be delivered live from its state-of-the-art 50,000 square foot Vista Studios in Playa Vista with a flagship studio at New York’s Three World Trade Center to open next year. VENN’s Studio One at Vista will have over 1,000 sq. ft. and 30M pixels of LED walls and floors for digital storytelling and interactive formats.
“We identify and curate fan favorite talent, develop and elevate their content with a world class TV production infrastructure, then rapidly scale it all via our universally distributed network,” said Ben Kusin, Co-CEO of VENN. “There’s a currency in generational talents and a currency in generational movements.”
“From conception, VENN has been laser-focused on elevating the creators of this generation with production leadership, a chance to flex new creative muscles and grow their audiences via our broad distribution” added Ariel Horn, Co-CEO of VENN.
Deadline discussed VENN with the duo in April as production plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Horn is an esports pioneer and producer who, after a decade at NBC Sports, took over production of BlizzCon for Blizzard Entertainment and then, with Riot Games, grew fledgling League of Legends into a global powerhouse, taking esports from niche halls to packed stadiums and global viewers. Kusin is an entrepreneur who founded a handful of companies and led new media and strategic alliances for Vivendi Universal Games. His father Gary Kusin, founded the company later called Gamestop in 1984.
They announced VENN in September of 2019 with $17 million in seed round funding from investors including Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games, Mike Morhaime, co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Kevin Lin, co-founder of Twitch, YuChiang Cheng, co-founder of World Golf Tour and President of Topgolf Media and others. They had raised additional funds since and brought in Kroenke Sports.
The CTO is Scott Gillies, formerly CTO of Vice and Red Bull Media. Aaron Godfred, formerly of Fullscreen and Omaze, heads programming.
VENN’s schedule for network launch includes:
VENN ARCADE LIVE: A daily variety show celebrating all things gaming and pop culture, hosted by League of Legends Championship Series host James ‘Dash’ Patterson. VAL will feature guest appearances, live performances, interactive gameplay and audience participation from gamers, celebrities, athletes and musicians.
DARE PACKAGE: A live competition format where contestants take on challenges from solving Mensa-level puzzles to eating pickled brains. It’s hosted by gamer and live reality TV personality @AustinOnTwitter.
GUEST HOUSE: Each weekday afternoon VENN invites gaming’s biggest names, rising stars, and beloved creators to choose their own adventure and customize their own two hour TV show using VENN’s state-of-the art studios and broadcast production team. Hosted by performing artist and gamer Chrissy Constanza (lead singer of Against The Current).
THE SUSHIDRAGON SHOW: A variety, talk and performance show with musicians, artists and creators and “high energy dancing” set against “metaverse bending digital environments.” Hosted by the eclectic, eccentric performance artist and streamer TheSushiDragon.
LOOKING FOR GAINS: Who says gamers can’t be athletes? An interactive fitness show hosted by YouTube sensation and competitive NBA2K Pro CashNasty, best known for his blend of gaming, basketball and comedy content. Each week Cash welcomes a special celebrity guest to the ultimate quarantine workout exercises you can do at home, celebrity Q&A, and shake recipes.
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