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American Ninja Warrior Show Summary
American Ninja Warrior (sometimes abbreviated as ANW) is an American sports entertainment competition based on the Japanese television series Sasuke. It features hundreds of competitors attempting to complete series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty in various cities across the United States, in hopes of advancing to the national finals on the Las Vegas Strip and becoming the season’s “American Ninja Warrior.”
To date, only Isaac Caldiero, Geoff Britten, and Drew Drechsel have finished the course and achieved “total victory”. Caldiero and Drechsel are the only competitors to win the cash prize. The series premiered on December 12, 2009, on the now-defunct cable channel G4, and airs now on NBC with encore episodes showing on NBCSN. Since 2020, the show also airs on Spanish-language network Telemundo.
American Ninja Warrior History
In late 2006, the American cable channel G4 began airing broadcasts (subtitled in English or dubbed with English commentary and re-titled Ninja Warrior) of the Japanese sports entertainment television special Sasuke. Coinciding with this, the channel held the first American Ninja Challenge, in which Americans gained the opportunity to be sent to compete on Sasuke. Over time, the semi-annual Sasuke broadcasts on G4 gained a cult following in the United States and eventually became some of the channel’s most-watched broadcasts. This led to the creation of the American adaptation of the show, American Ninja Warrior, in 2009. American Ninja Warrior followed American Ninja Challenge as the qualifying route for Americans to enter Sasuke.
Since the fourth season, American finalists compete on a nearly-identical finals course on the Las Vegas Strip not traveling to Japan to compete on Sasuke. NBC began broadcasting the city finals and national finals episodes in the fourth season.
By the fifth season, G4 was set to be replaced by Esquire Network and had wound down all original programming—besides American Ninja Warrior—by January 2013. Notably, the sideboard advertising along the fifth season’s courses listed Esquire Network as the broadcaster because G4 was going to transition into Esquire Network by April 22, 2013—prior to the season premiere. However, the channel switch was delayed to September 23, 2013, and Esquire Network took over Style Network’s channel space instead. As a result, NBC became the sole broadcaster of the original episodes while Esquire Network aired reruns until the eighth season.
American Ninja Warrior Presenters
During each episode, the play-by-play announcer and color commentator provide play-by-play on a competitor’s run on the course while the sideline reporter introduces the obstacles and interviews competitors.
American Ninja Warrior was originally hosted by G4’s Blair Herter and Alison Haislip.
In the second season, comedian and television host Matt Iseman joined the show, replacing Herter. Producers were fond of his knowledge of sports and lighthearted, enthusiastic delivery. Additionally, MMA fighter Jimmy Smith was brought in as co-host while Haislip was assigned to the new sideline reporter position. The panel remained the same throughout season three. For season four, Olympic medalist Jonny Moseley was brought in as the new color commentator, replacing Smith. Producers believed his experience as a freestyle skier would bring a unique perspective to the series. Meanwhile, sportscaster and television presenter Angela Sun replaced Haislip.
For season five, two newcomers were introduced. Sports analyst and former NFL player Akbar Gbaja-Biamila replaced Moseley, while ESPN sportscaster and model Jenn Brown replaced Sun as sideline reporter. Gbaja-Biamila was contacted to audition for the role of co-host in Los Angeles after being seen on the NFL Network by one of the series’ executive producers. The season five panel remained the same through the sixth season.
For season seven, CBS Sports reporter Kristine Leahy joined the show as the new sideline reporter, replacing Brown, and remained on the show through season 10.
Iseman and Gbaja-Biamila returned to host the eleventh season along with new sideline reporter Zuri Hall. For season 12, the panel remained the same, as it will for the thirteenth season.