The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

First We Feast

Winner in YouTube Presence


First We Feast, part of Complex Networks, views food as an illuminating lens into pop culture, music, travel and more through its innovative slate of food-driven video franchises. Its YouTube channel is home to flagship series “Hot Ones,” “Feast Mansion,” “The Burger Show” and more, has 8 million subscribers and over 1.3 billion views to date. First We Feast uses food as a catalyst for important conversations around culture on an international scale and develops programming around its community’s diverse palate.


The goals for First We Feast’s YouTube strategy are to satisfy its audience’s appetite for excellence in content, to further develop a community feel on the platform, and to continue growing the channel in both subscribers and engagement. First We Feast began using YouTube Stories in September 2019 as a way to authentically garner more engagement for the channel, and increasing its usage is a goal for 2020. First We Feast strives to stay abreast of new features within YouTube and is always open to experimenting for the betterment of its fans. 2020 is an exciting year for First We Feast in terms of linear programming developments, however it is a priority for the brand to maintain and strengthen its YouTube community—the community whose support created the opportunity for expansion to new mediums.

Strategy and Execution

One of First We Feast’s core values is being in tune with its audience, and the brand’s programming and YouTube strategy are developed with the fan in mind. First We Feast is hyper-focused on engagement, and knowing its audience, listening and delivering content respectively have bolstered the channel to a top publisher week over week.


To engage the YouTube community, First We Feast reads and responds to comments, releases series on a weekly cadence to develop “appointment viewing” and retention, and utilizes features within the platform (Community Tab and YouTube Stories). These tactics have helped the brand reach existing subscribers and new viewers.


In addition to using analytics and tools, First We Feast develops homegrown stars on its channel, collaborates with other creators on new series (including 88rising and Reina Scully), and leverages its franchises’ success outside YouTube as part of its strategy. Tapping nontraditional talent reinforces the brand’s belief that food media should be inclusive and redefines the idea of “the expert.” First We Feast also establishes itself as an authority by inserting its talent and IP in new spaces (daytime/late-night TV appearances, premium distribution, etc.), selling merchandise (including branded hot sauce), and earning industry award recognition.


First We Feast saw unprecedented success from its strategy in 2019 and has leveraged its YouTube presence to create valuable IP, drive sponsorships for its franchises (season-long TUMS sponsorship of “Hot Ones” and yearlong Simple Mobile sponsorship of “The Burger Show”), sell millions of dollars in product (including merchandise for its series, apparel and a $10 million hot sauce business), launch homegrown stars in hosts like Sean Evans and Alvin Cailan, secure daytime and late-night TV bookings, win awards, and develop a library of content with unparalleled licensing value (Fuse, Hulu, etc.).


As a result of its YouTube success, TruTV ordered “Hot Ones” as a game show for linear television, premiering February 18, 2020. “Hot Ones: The Game Show” maintains its IP, and the interview show will continue to air weekly on YouTube. It’s a first-of-its-kind deal for a Complex Networks series.

First We Feast gained 3.3 million+ subscribers in 2019, a 77% increase from 2018, and now celebrates a community of 8 million (larger than its competitors and traditional lifestyle publishers). Its diverse programming slate averages the following views per episode: “Hot Ones” (4.7M), “The Burger Show” (1.4M) and “Feast Mansion” (770K). The channel averages 10K comments per video and has a Like to Dislike ratio of 42.7/1.


Video for First We Feast

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Complex Networks


Entry Credits