May 01, 2019
By Kelby Clark
The improv and sketch comedy series has gone from a pre-social-media cable show to a brand that transcends television.
Earlier this week, amidst a slate of digital programming news presented during Viacom’s NewFronts event, the company announced a Twitch channel dedicated to Wild ‘N Out. Soon enough, the comedy and rap personalities from the hit sketch comedy show will be able to compete in video games alongside fans.
It’s just the latest move in an expansion of the MTV series—which airs on MTV, MTV2, and VH1—that includes an incredibly popular YouTube channel, merchandise, the Wild ‘N Out Live tour, an upcoming concert film, a bar and restaurant business, reported plans for an official podcast series, and a Wild ‘N Out-inspired improv school. In March, MTV ordered up to 90 episodes of the series, which will take it through Season 16 and beyond the 200th-episode milestone it’s set to hit this summer.
“Wild 'N Out is as recognizable now in 2019 as it was when the show first launched,” says Tyler Hissey, VP of marketing and social media at MTV, VH1 and CMT. “Social media is a big part of that.”
The show, which pits teams of comics and celebrity guests against each other in a series of improv games, began its social media expansion in 2017 with YouTube. The effort has been incredibly successful; it’s now the top hip-hop entertainment channel on the platform, according to data from Tubular, with 4.5 million subscribers, more than 3.5 billion minutes watched, and 792 million views. It also serves as a model for how Viacom IP can expand from a linear show to a modern multiplatform, entertainment franchise.
"The fact that anything can happen, that it’s so raw, I think that’s what people gravitate towards."
Creator, producer, and host of MTV's 'Wild 'N Out.'
In its original stint, it was one of the highest-rated shows in the network's history and helped to expose comedians like Katt Williams, Kevin Hart, Mikey Day, and Pete Davidson to mainstream audiences before taking a six-year production hiatus. MTV collaborated with Cannon’s Ncredible Entertainment for the revival.
When asked why the show appeals to generations of audiences, Cannon says it’s because there are no rules. “The fact that anything can happen, that it’s so raw, I think that’s what people gravitate towards." The big change between the original show and its 2013 revival? The influence of social media.
"We're going to keep on growing this phenomenon and leading the fans to it wherever we can."
VP of marketing and social media at MTV, VH1 and CMT.
The channel’s success was an impetus to develop a larger digital strategy that incorporated other platforms.
“Our growth numbers have been strong, but we're really trying to be as successful as we can be in every single social platform where our fans for Wild 'N Out are spending time,” explains Hissey.
The team picks the best moments from the show, cutting the content differently for each platform to its 13.7 million combined followers. Lengthier clips live on YouTube and Facebook Watch, while 60-second videos fill Instagram and Twitter.
When it comes to making platform programming decisions, “Everything that we do is based on data,” says Hissey. “We take the moments that we know that our fans love best, and that’s what informs our decisions.”