VENN, or the Video Game Entertainment and News Network, is saying it is going to create 20 hours of weekly online game programming for broadcast tv. The exhibits will debut on August 5, however the New York-based firm isn’t but saying which broadcast channel might be airing the content material. For the previous couple of years, the corporate has been growing content material towards a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week channel for players.
More exhibits and expertise might be introduced within the coming weeks, Ben Kusin, co-CEO of VENN, mentioned in an interview with GamesBeat. He mentioned the exhibits are being designed for a number of broadcast TV, streaming, and on-line platforms.
“There’s a chasm of programming for Gen Z and millennials,” Kusin mentioned. “We see a very big opportunity within television to be able to cater to an audience that isn’t being targeted. They play games like other generations watched movies or listened to music.”
The firm has greater than 63 staff (not counting contractors) and has raised $17 million thus far. Investors embrace Mike Morhaime, former president of Blizzard Entertainment; former Blizzard esports VP Amy Morhaime, his spouse; Twitch cofounder Kevin Lin; and Marc Merrill, cofounder of Riot Games. VENN has created a 50,000-square-foot studio within the Playa Vista neighborhood on the west facet of Los Angeles. Although it may very well be troublesome to movie exhibits throughout lockdown, Kusin mentioned that the studio has been constructed with social distancing in thoughts. The firm additionally has a studio opening in New York City in 2021.
“We were able to create a best-practices production house with testing, plexiglass dividers, a limited number of people in the control room, and a limited number on the set,” Kusin mentioned. “Everything is cleaned and sanitized. We are shooting with wide lenses, and our talent is never within six feet of any person in the studio.”
Other corporations have tried online game tv earlier than, together with G4 Media, which began in 2002 and went out of enterprise in 2014, after years of working exhibits on the G4TV cable channel. But Kusin mentioned that G4 was forward of its time, coming earlier than the tradition of recreation spectating and livestreaming emerged with social networks akin to Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
“The G4 brand meant something that was special at that time, but the timing was off, and it was before social networks really took off,” Kusin mentioned. “That same programming wouldn’t be suitable for this generation today. We live in a different generation, in different times.” And because of cell video games, 65% of American adults play video video games now, and the common age of a gamer is 35, in keeping with the Entertainment Software Association.
VENN is focused squarely on the streaming era, and it’s centered on the intersection of gaming and leisure. While most of the star creators have change into enormous within the on-line world, they haven’t damaged into mainstream TV as a result of there hasn’t been a community that welcomes them, Kusin mentioned.
So VENN will span a number of codecs of leisure — from discuss exhibits and information to recreation exhibits and docuseries. Told by the lens of popular culture and gaming, the breadth of content material will communicate on to Gen Z and millennial audiences, Kusin mentioned.
“We know that TV production is at the highest quality level, and so the question is whether we can elevate our content to that highest level,” Kusin mentioned. “If you were channel surfing, you would come across this network and it should look like a show you find on TV. We are finding the best content creators on YouTube or Twitch, across the world of gaming. We are putting them into TV format shows with directors, producers, and the highest production values. And that’s a very exciting opportunity.”
Kusin began the corporate with co-CEO Ariel Horn. From the beginning, they needed to drag collectively gaming-oriented expertise to create exhibits that players may relate to, with the manufacturing values of main TV exhibits.
The firm’s exhibits embrace:
- VENN Arcade Live — A celebration of gaming and popular culture in a every day selection present. Hosted by League of Legends Championship Series host James “Dash” Patterson and others, the present will function visitor appearances, stay performances, interactive gameplay, and viewers participation from players, streamers, celebrities, athletes, and musicians.
- Dare Package — A present the place unboxing is a aggressive sport. VENN will ship streamers loot crates every week with thriller prizes and puzzles that must be solved to open the bins. Dare Package might be hosted by @AustinOnTwitter.
- Guest House — Each weekday afternoon VENN will invite recreation stars and creators to decide on their very own journey and customise their very own two-hour TV present. Hosted by performing artist and gamer @ChrissyConstanza (lead singer of Against The Current), Guest House will let streamers take over a artistic house and present what they will do.
- The Sushi Dragon Show — The present stars the eccentric efficiency artist and streamer @TheSushiDragon. The subjects will change every week, with visitors together with musicians, artists, and creators.
- Looking For Gains — Hosted by YouTube sensation and aggressive NBA2K Pro @CashNasty, this present might be an interactive health present with a celeb visitor every week. The superstar should do a quarantine exercise.
Kusin mentioned that media corporations wish to recapture players who’ve lengthy left TV behind and moved into on-line video games, cell video games, and social media. That’s not a simple activity, as there isn’t gamer-centric programming on TV.
“We know that gamers watch TV, like Rick and Morty, South Park, Game of Thrones, and other shows,” Kusin mentioned. “It’s not like this audience doesn’t exist in the TV realm. We will find them on the platforms where they are.”
Kusin additionally mentioned that whereas VENN’s content material will seem on TV, it is going to additionally take full benefit of digital networks, livestreaming, and social media. “Our goal is to be agnostic and be on every single platform,” Kusin mentioned. “The goal is to be on every single platform that can transmit our content, whether they are a cable channel, a social channel, streaming, or everywhere else.” By 2021, VENN hopes to broaden to 50 hours of weekly programming, Kusin mentioned.
Ben Kusin, by the best way, is the son of Babbages cofounder Gary Kusin. That Dallas-based firm was one of many early chains of recreation shops. It was acquired by Barnes & Noble in 1999. I used to put in writing about them within the good previous days earlier than they turned GameCease, the largest online game retailer chain.
“My indoctrination in games started when I was 5 years old,” Ben Kusin mentioned.