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.

From top ratings to social stars.

Of course, there would be no Wild ‘N Out without Nick Cannon, who created, produced, and hosted the original series on MTV from 2005 through 2007.

"The fact that anything can happen, that it’s so raw, I think that’s what people gravitate towards."

Nick Cannon

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 had a serious conversation with Nick about how the show should look and feel when it came back on MTV2,” says Candida Boyette-Clemons, VP of alternative programming at MTV and VH1 and executive producer for the show. “We rebranded it with a new cast, many of whom were social stars.”

The producers of the show continue to scour social media and digital communities to cast the show and engage directly with fans online. Celebrity guests have also had a significant social presence including Chance The Rapper, Chrissy Teigen, Wendy Williams, Lil’ Yachty, and Perez Hilton—the latter of whom will guest star in this coming Season 13.

The influence of fans, however, has remained constant. “The fans are the show,” says Cannon. He says most of the talent is found based on asking fans who they want to see, and even games are crowd-sourced from viewer suggestions.

3

‘The best days of Wild 'N Out are ahead of us.’

About four years after the revival premiered, the MTV social marketing team began aggressively taking footage from the linear show and clipping it for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

They noticed that people were drawn specifically to the show’s videos on YouTube, so in July 2018 the network converted the official MTV2 YouTube channel into a channel dedicated to Wild ’N Out.

Hissey with Boyette-Clemons and their teams worked together to create a separate Wild 'N Out YouTube production team and began populating the channel with original video content like Night CappinYour Life in Rhyme, and F*** Boy Court

"We're going to keep on growing this phenomenon and leading the fans to it wherever we can."

Tyler Hissey

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.”

 

Even the move to Twitch was a numbers-based reaction, as much of Wild “N Out’s core audience are young males who love gaming. Plus, the Twitch content can be cut for use on YouTube.

“I think the best days of Wild 'N Out are ahead of us,” says Hissey. “Wild 'N Out is this phenomenon, and we're going to keep on growing this phenomenon and leading the fans to it wherever we can.”

Related Articles