Ben Kusin, a former marketer at Electronic Arts, and esports executive Ariel Horn created an MTV-like entertainment destination for gamers last August, replete with a Total Request Live-like show, signing a lease in a high-profile building (the World Trade Center), and planning for fans to “come face-to-face with creators,” says Kusin, who is both a cofounder and co-CEO with Horn.
Most of the original programming, live events, and licensed content on their Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN) lives wherever gamers congregate, from Twitch to Roku, and Vizio to YouTube and Instagram—with tailored content for each space. Live tournament videos (produced with esports company Blast) can drive over 80 million views in a single weekend. VENN’s signature program, Dare Package—where gamers compete in a “disgusting, brain-melting” dare—generated 30,000 concurrent Twitch streams its first episode. This mix of “ubiquitous distribution,” Kusin says, and “a different core strategy for each platform” translated into over 29 million unique viewers for live broadcasts everywhere VENN played in its first nine months.
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