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Here’s why American Ninja Warrior’s taping schedule is different this year

An explainer on the big changes from other seasons.

David Becker/NBC

As soon as the taping dates and locations were announced for season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, fans took note of some big differences.

Season 12 will consist of only three “stops” on the qualifying tour before heading on to the National Finals in Las Vegas. In seasons past, Ninja Warrior made five or six stops all around the country.

So what gives? We’ve seen the feedback and confusion online, so we thought we’d try to explain what’s going on in a little bit more detail.

For season 12, American Ninja Warrior will tape in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, MO. Here are those dates again:

  • Los Angeles: March 13 and 14
  • Washington, D.C.: April 6, 7, 11, 12
  • St. Louis, MO: May 5, 6, 10, 11
  • Las Vegas: Early June

TL - DR:

  • The show is trying something out by taping multiple episodes in the same locations.
  • The Summer Olympics will cut into the broadcast season.

Let’s get into this.

Yes, there are fewer locations. However, only Los Angeles follows the pattern diehard fans are familiar with: Two days of overnight taping - Qualifiers followed by Finals.

D.C. and St. Louis each have FOUR taping dates. This means two Qualifiers and two Finals will be recorded in each location. Also, those locations will film indoors and during the day. Production is mixing it up. We’ll see how it goes! (Remember, they tested this out a bit in season 11 when they taped the Seattle/Tacoma Qualifiers and City Finals indoors and during the day.)

We know what you’re thinking, “Great, but that only leaves us with five Qualifiers. The past few seasons have had six Qualifiers.” Yup, you’re totally right.

So we need to take a look at something else that sets season 12 apart. Waaaaaay back in season eight, there were also only five regions. Why is this? What do the two seasons have in common? Well, season eight was four years ago, meaning it’s time for the summer Olympics once again!

The 2020 Summer Olympic games will air midway through Ninja Warrior’s usual broadcast season. The show will take a hiatus for two weeks so we can cheer on some OTHER very talented athletes. Basically, it chops out the two episodes that would have belonged to a sixth region.

This does cut into the overall number of competitors that can run the course this year. That’s a bummer. With the games, it’s a little bit unavoidable, since we doubt NBC can overhaul the entire broadcast season to fit in more American Ninja Warrior. (We’d be all about this, but we imagine some of the NBC’s other shows might get a little testy about it.)

That means that the casting phone calls which just started are all the more precious this year!

Season 12 is going to be an interesting one, no matter what. Jump to the comments and let us know how you’re feeling about the changes.