‘American Ninja Warrior’ Lands Bumper Renewal Order At NBC With Taller Mega Wall Among Format Changes

EXCLUSIVE: American Ninja Warrior will be back on NBC for a while.

The competition format, which is produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions, returns this June for season 15 and has already been picked up for season 16.

Hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila, along with co-host Zuri Hall, are back to call the action as the ninjas make their way through the qualifying and semifinal rounds in Los Angeles before moving to the national finals in Las Vegas.

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There are a number of new additions to the seasons including a Mega Wall with ninjas also racing side-by-side and head-to-head for the first time, marking the biggest changes to the show in its history.

Production is currently underway on both seasons, with A. Smith & Co. filming the seasons back-to-back with select ninjas featured in both seasons. Season 15 will premiere on June 5 and season 16 returns in 2024. It marks a major statement of intent from NBCU unscripted chief Corie Henson, who joined last summer.

A top prize of $1 million will go to the winner who can conquer all four stages at the national finals in Las Vegas.  

“The Ninja movement continues,” exec producer Arthur Smith told Deadline. “We’re now at the point where the show has been on long enough that some of our younger athletes, Ninja has been around their whole life. This year, we have fathers and sons and mothers and sons competing.”

He added, “This is a unique competition that it is about the people and the stories and it has a lot of unique characteristics. Where else you have athletes rooting for each other? Where else you have women and men competing on the same course? We have a community and there’s so many positive values.”

This season will see contestants go head-to-head racing, taking on the course at the same time and a Mega Wall that is taller than ever before. New obstacles in season 15 include ‘Pole Vault’, which sees competitors jump off a trampoline to fly high in the air to catch a pole, ‘Greased Lightning, where competitors hang on to both ends of a rope as it slides and drops down a tube to reach the finish platform, ‘The Getaway’, where competitors rotate a wheel that unlocks, drops and reveals a ring they take and land on a hook then lache and catch a money bag that slides and carries them to the finish platform, ‘Ring The Bells, with swings and bells, ‘Lasso Launch, using a rope, ‘Kite Surfer’ where competitors use their hands to traverse a kite, transfer to a bungee then to another kite to reach the finish platform, and ‘Cubes’.

New obstacles in season 16 include ‘Heavy Metal’, where competitors transfer a bar across a series of cradles, ‘Reel to Reel’, where competitors hold onto a wheel as it slides down a track, ‘Danger Waters’ featuring a series of free spinning beams, ‘Duck Duck Goose’, which sees competitors lache across a series of ledges that swing and shut, to reach the finish platform, and ‘Jaw Breakers’, where competitors lache a bar across a series of traps that are angled at different positions increasing in difficulty.   

Smith noted that one of the reasons they change the course up is the number of people training to compete. “We keep making the course harder, and they keep getting better. They keep training and it’s like the never ending quest for us to push the limit. They started with building courses in the backyard, that was reasonably early in the run. Now there’s Ninja gyms everywhere and then to coaches and then to trainers. Now we have kids, who say, ‘I’m not going to play soccer. I’m doing Ninja.”

He also pointed to the inspirational stories of some of the competitors including Christopher Harding Jones, a teenager from Georgia in season 14, whose motto was “Living Wide”, which he adopted after his father passed away from lung cancer, and Taylor Greene, who competed as a child on American Ninja Warrior Junior and is now 15 so she’s appearing on the main show.

“It’s kind of like watching LeBron James in high school,” he added. “Those moments happen on Ninja and we always have these really great backstories.”

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