Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had over 350 people vote in our “Boot Camp – Love It or Hate It?” poll. I’m no mathmagician, but I think 350 votes picking among only 5 options is enough for us to deduce a few things about how people feel about the Boot Camp setup in American Ninja Warrior. Here are the results, as of this moment, in order of popularity:
#1 “Love It!” with 29%
#2 “Pretty Cool” with 28%
#3 “I hate it! I’m so mad!” with 20%
#4 “I could take it or leave it” with 12%
#5 “Don’t really care for it, but I ain’t mad” with 11%
First deduction…most people either love it or like it, with almost 60% choosing one of the two positive options against roughly 30% who chose one of the two negative options. The two positive options clocked in at #1 and #2 in terms of votes.
Second deduction…the people who don’t like it, REALLY don’t like it with 20% of the overall tally saying that they hate it. On an anecdotal level, from comments people have shared on this blog or elsewhere, the main complaint people have is that it (1) encourages people to “game-play” to create drama and earn their spot for Japan as oppose to just proving it straight-up with their ninja chops, and (2) by creating “Survivor”-esque setups it undermines the inherent sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship that is part of the Ninja Warrior tradition.
Third deduction…many of the hardcore fans HATE the Bootcamp, while most everybody else really likes it. How do I know this? Well, the early voters in this poll were ANW competitors that I know and bulletin board members, and the later voters were people who just found this blog searching “American Ninja Warrior” on one of the search engines. Through the first 100 votes there was a dramatic 4-to-1 ratio of “Hate it!” to “Love it!” votes, showing that those hardcore early fans truly hated it. I thought the poll was going to be a landslide against the Boot Camp. But as more voters trickled in over the last couple of weeks, primarily new and casual fans, they RESOUNDINGLY voted positively for the Boot Camp and more that recovered ground in what seemed like an insurmountable deficit of 4-to-1 against, and both the positive options surpassed the most popular negative choice. This means that the Boot Camp, as G4 probably intended, appealed to more of the mass audience and perhaps expanded the fan base for our little obstacle course competition.
Final conclusion…overall people really liked the Boot Camp, particularly casual and new fans. Who knows exactly why…maybe they love Survivor-esque drama, maybe they just like having more hours of ANW content, maybe they like to learn about the competitors more and it makes them more vested in their success. What we do know is that a lot of hardcore fans did not like the structure that encouraged “anti-sportsmanship” drama, and didn’t purely advance the 10 best competitors to Japan. I think these hardcore fans would actually really like the Boot Camp if it were structured to (1) advance people purely on merit, and (2) focus even more on preparation for Japan. But undeniably the “mass audience” and casual fans really liked it, and I think that is probably a good thing for ANW’s sustainability in the long-term.
Feel free to post your comments here and continue the discussion! Who knows? Maybe somebody from G4 might see this and it might influence what they do for next year. Let your voice be heard!