CUT: The Success Behind “Truth or Drink,” “Fear Pong,” and “Lineup”

What do people like watching the most? Based on the millions of views CUT’s YouTube videos receive, it’s watching others be uncomfortable.

Even if the name CUT doesn’t ring a bell, maybe their popular series “Truth or Drink,” “Fear Pong,” or “Lineup” will. The first series, usually shows two people, parent and kid or exes, sitting across from one another, asking each other awkward, scandalous questions and taking a shot if they don’t answer it. “Fear Pong” follows a similar approach, but instead, people play beer pong and if they make a shot, they answer a question or complete a dare. The last of the three, “Lineup,” is a bit different, in which people guess which individuals in the lineup in front of them fit a certain category, such as “Guess Who’s Muslim” or “Divide Us Into Democrats & Republicans.”

Since its inception in October 29th, 2014, CUT has garnered over eight million subscribers and amassed over 2.5 billion views. According to Social Blade, the total monthly views and subscribers have increased over the past three few years, although there are a few expected decreases here and there. Just in the past 30 days, there’s been a 17.3% increase in views and a 4.9% increase in number of subscribers. Moreover, CUT was awarded a grade of A from Social Blade, which notable YouTube channels such as iisuperwomanii, nigahiga, and jeffreestar don’t even have.

CUT’s most viewed video, “Kids Getting Their Picture Taken with Santa,” sits at 56 million views and was published three years ago. But two of the top five most viewed videos are from the past year. “Strangers Play Fear Pong (Emily vs. Kenny) | Fear Pong” and “Bartenders Guess Who’s Underage 1 | Lineup,” with 28 million and 25 million views respectively. Even if some of their older videos sit at the top, their newer content is rising in popularity.

Honestly, it makes sense why these series are so popular. “Fear Pong” and “Truth or Drink” both incorporate alcohol in the fun. Why would that ever be a bad idea? The term liquid courage really applies here. With alcohol, people usually feel more open in sharing intimate details about their relationship and sex life with their parents or bosses.

We are often hesitant to share such personal parts of our lives with anyone but maybe our friends or significant others. We’re socially bound to norms and unwritten rules that shape each relationship whether it be with your grandparents or your exes. However, CUT pushes people to break those very boundaries. Sometimes being honest can be awkward and cringey, but it might even help you develop a special connection with the other person. So, even if the regular viewer may never dare to ask their parents how they lost their virginity, they can vicariously live through the participants emotions and reactions.   

“Fear Pong” also shows the audience to embrace their bodies. Almost every episode has a dare in which the players have to strip down to their underwear. Once again, CUT attempts to make uncomfortable situations, such as being in your underwear, somehow more acceptable.

These episodes also challenge our perception and views of strangers, ones we often develop subconsciously from our implicit biases. When people we’ve never met before are open with one another, we often learn new things about them and are more empathetic. “Lineup” does this really well. It asks the guessers to judge every book by its cover. The one thing we’re always told not to do. As the audience often plays along while watching their screen (I definitely do!), we’re all confronted by the quick judgements we make of people. The boxes we place them into without considering the diversity of stories we each hold.

At the end of the day, CUT’s videos are successful because they are about people like us. They explore our relationships to ourselves, close friends, and even strangers. Not only are these short videos entertaining, they’re often ways to change the way we view other people like us.

As it says on CUT’s website, “We are the next great storytelling company. But talk is cheap. So check out our work.” Watch their videos at Cut.

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