VENN Announces New H3CZ Talk Show, Other Programming Plans for 2021

Gaming-focused network VENN (Video Game Entertainment and News Network) announced Thursday a new show starring OpTic Chicago CEO Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, a new linear rights deal related to Fan Controlled Football (FCF), and other programming initiatives for 2021. This new content will be rolled into three new centralized verticals (esports, core gaming, and pop culture) as the network recalibrates its programming.

The new show hosted by Rodriguez is called “Origin Stories,” and will feature the face of OpTic talking with “celebrities, gaming content creators, esports titans, and leading video game execs,” according to the announcement. VENN co-founder and co-CEO Ariel Horn told The Esports Observer that the new show is “akin to David Letterman’s Netflix hit, ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,’ “but with H3CZ in our studio interviewing and going super-deep into topics with the legends of esports and gaming.” The first episode (which should be available now) is with YouTube Global Gaming Officer Ryan Wyatt.

Horn said that VENN has been in talks with Rodriguez for the “better part of a year” to build a TV-style talk show. “He’s had discussions on his own podcast with everyone from the Nadeshots of the world, to the legends of gaming and esports … but for us, we felt like we could give him a chance to go deeper in a studio format. We’ve released our first episode in its linear form and it’s an hour-long [48-minutes to allow for commercials]. We’re also cutting it up into segments and putting it on YouTube and on our syndication channels.”

VENN also secured the linear distribution rights to Fan Controlled Football, a new football league launching Feb. 13 that lets viewers democratize plays for real-world players on teams owned by a number of content creators, entertainers, and sports stars, that will run for six weeks (see TEO’s story on FCF here). VENN will broadcast games on its linear distribution channels including Samsung, The Roku Channel, Vizio, and more. FCF will also be broadcast live on Twitch.

VENN recently secured the rights to FACECHECK, a League of Legends esports talk show hosted by former LCS pro player Christian “IWDominate” Rivera, T1 content creator and former English LCK caster Nick “LS” De Cesare, and VENN’s Daniel “dGon” Gonzales, a former host and shoutcaster for various leagues including LCS, Snoop Dogg’s GGL, ESL, and DreamHack

Horn also revealed VENN’s plans for future collaboration with tournament organizer BLAST, who it signed a strategic partnership with in January.

“BLAST is a great synergistic partnership because they have the tournaments and we have the wrapping and the shoulder programming that goes all around it that I think is a critically good thing for everyone. BLAST is an excellent partner that sees the value of our studio system and our North American footprint, and we’re excited to jump in there. We’re going to be producing not only entertainment during their shows but also the North American qualifying event for their Premier League for CS:GO this spring.”

Finally, Horn says that VENN is breaking out its content into categories across three different YouTube channels: VENN Download, VENN Plays, and VENN Esports. This move is to calibrate some of its content to cater to core audiences while continuing to create crossover content.

“We’ve taken a look at our YouTube channel that had all the different types of content going to one channel, and decided to split it up into three channels now; so we have one channel that’s focused on really deep dive gaming topics called VENN Download – that’s aimed at core gamers that really want to go deep. We have a channel that’s meant for competitive gaming enthusiasts called VENN Esports that recently launched, and then we have the current channel we had always planned for that crossover culture content called VENN Plays that continues to have a bunch of other entertainment-based crossovers that we’ll be announcing in the next couple of weeks.”

Editor’s note: An earlier iteration of this story mistakenly identified “Ryan Wyatt” as “Ryan White.” The story has been corrected to reflect this.

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