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Gaming heavyweights raise $17M for esports network

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NEW YORK—A new venture backed by many of video gaming's biggest publishers is unveiling a network that hopes to be to esports what ESPN has been to traditional sports.

VENN is set to launch in 2020 and aims to give the fragmented esports scene a home base for content with higher production value than gamers are used to with online streaming.

The network was co-founded by four-time Emmy-winning producer Ariel Horn and entrepreneur Ben Kusin and has raised $17 million from investors including co-founders from Twitch, Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment.

VENN, short for Video Game Entertainment and News Network, will debut with live studios in New York and Los Angeles. There is expected to be 55 hours of original programming per week, including gamer streams, talk shows, documentaries and live esport events.

It already has deals in place to broadcast on Twitch and YouTube and expects to be available on mediums like Roku or Sling.

Esports revenues are expected to top $1 billion this year.

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