YouTube star Mr Beast racked up 600 million views for his recent recreation of physical challenge shows like Squid Game.

The set build and design was handled by The ATS team, best known for creating the super-sized sets for TV shows like Ninja Warrior.

Nate Moore, CEO of the ATS Team, explains how creating sets for YouTubers differs from building for the network channels.

How many shows can boast hitting over 600 million views? Mr Beast’s YouTube video recreating the challenges from the Netflix hit, Squid Games has racked up huge viewing figures and is continuing to climb.

With numbers like this, there is certainly a lot of interest for the new breed of global online stars such as Mark Rober, Logan Paul, Amine Karnage and Collins Key to create content containing physical challenges or obstacles.

We know a thing or two about what’s needed for making these types of physical challenges. Having started out as a rock climbing and adventure guide company, 20 years on The ATS Team is an internationally established production company, building TV competition formats like Ninja Warrior or Top Dog.

With our team’s vast expertise in constructing competition style obstacles and challenges, we have naturally expanded our breadth of services to jobs for major YouTubers or influencers such as the names I mentioned above. So, we knew it was only a matter of time before we started working with Mr. Beast.

Having worked across the TV world and increasingly in the world of online digital content, there are clearly crossovers. But there are also several significant differences in the ambition, timescales, and willingness to take risks, that have become apparent.

Working on World’s Deadliest Obstacle Course with Mr. Beast was the largest project we have done yet with a YouTuber. There are a lot of aspects that are quite a bit different from the TV world when it comes to creative design. For one, their timelines are even shorter than TV. We didn’t get heavily involved until it was 5 weeks from filming.

Their creative team is also juggling a number of totally different concepts at any given moment that are all on the same short timelines. The creatives also tend to have a gaming background instead of TV, so their perspective is totally different.

The creative is also in a constant flux until the moment of shooting. If Jimmy (aka Mr. Beast) shows up on set and something isn’t just how he wanted it, he may change it at the very last minute. Since he is the key talent for the shoot, it not near as big of a deal if there is a delay in the shooting schedule as it would be on a normal TV shoot. There are obviously additional costs, but they are not afraid to approve large additional expenses if it gets them the vision they have.

There were a few moments when I hesitated to suggest ideas because I know in the TV world it would have immediately been dismissed due to budget, but they genuinely consider those options. They truly believe in their core value to make the best YouTube videos on earth.

The expectations are just different from the standard TV format like Ninja Warrior. For one, a show like Ninja Warriorhas very defined expectations for the obstacles. We know the basic length, height, width and expected gameplay. For a YouTuber though, the sky is the limit and there are no specific expectations since they are constantly creating something new with no formula.

Even the expected outcomes differ significantly.

On Ninja Warrior we can’t dictate how far a contestant will make it on the course, but enough content is captured that no matter the outcome, a story can still be woven together that shows several contestants succeeding and a number failing on different obstacles.

When we helped with Worlds Deadliest Obstacle Course, there was only a single competitor, and if he fell too early in the episode, then there was no episode at all. I don’t believe that is a risk that networks would be willing to take, and that higher risk is clearly paying off with a big reward when you look at the number of views a typical Mr. Beast video gets.

Networks and production companies are very familiar with the risks involved in production and this has led them to have many protocols in place that avoid that risk. YouTubers don’t seem to be as risk averse, so they don’t mind potentially taking a large loss in the event that an idea doesn’t work out.

The good thing for us at ATS is that we use the same building methods in either TV or social media content. When it comes to structural integrity and safety concerns, those don’t change, so our years of experience building out challenges and obstacles directly applies to everything we do in the YouTube world.

I believe the requests from YouTubers and Influencers will only grow larger and grander as they continue to push the boundaries, but luckily so far, they have been very open to our safety concerns.

The real bottleneck will be the timeline for the build. Their short turnaround times will always be an issue, but when it comes to large or complex set builds some things just can’t be rushed without compromising safety.

The constant flow of new content does force YouTubers to go big and it does force the need for consistent innovation and creativity. With their short lead up and turnaround times, it does give them the opportunity to jump on current events or trends that traditional TV would struggle to keep up with.

The Worlds Deadliest Obstacle Course was the third video in a series, but the reason the series became a series was because of all the comments on the first and second videos requesting Mack, the contestant in the series, to come back because everyone liked him.

This real time feedback allows YouTubers to change their plans quickly based on what the audience wants.

It takes a lot of the guess work out that Networks must work through.

Many YouTubers still operate on a much smaller scale than TV usually does, but there is a reason TV has grown to such scale. Large sets, especially obstacles courses or challenges, just look good on screen. I don’t think most people realize how large the sets are for shows like Ninja Warrior.

A common first comment when walking someone onto a Ninja Warrior set is “wow, I didn’t realize how big it would be.”

If challenges are not supersized, they tend to look underwhelming on screen.

Mr Beast even took relatable elements for his Worlds Deadliest Obstacle Course video from both Wipeout and Ninja Warrior and applied it to his audience which will naturally have some overlap. He even wrote Not Big Red Balls on the Wipeout course to avoid any copyright issues with the Big Red Balls from Wipeout.

Competition television and YouTube have a lot to learn from one another. There is a reason TV formats have gotten to where they are, but the explosive growth of the YouTube world has clearly proven that there is more than one way to create content.

Taking risks, big ambition, and jumping on trends asap will get you those big viewing numbers across platforms.

Jon Creamer

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