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Winner: Kacy Catanzaro helps 'American Ninja Warrior' soar
"American Ninja Warrior" actually premiered back in 2009 and it has been an NBC summer staple since 2011, but the numbers have been steadily rising this summer. "American Ninja Warrior" has been regularly helping NBC win Monday night among young viewers, regularly knocking off "Under the Dome" in the key demo, and encores have drawn solid audiences elsewhere. But just as CBS would try to tell you that the power of "Under the Dome" shouldn't be measured in Live+Same Day ratings, the power of "American Ninja Warrior" can't just be measured in how many people are watching on TV. Perhaps for the first time, "ANW" became a cultural phenomenon this summer and there's little question that diminutive former college gymnast Kacy Catanzaro deserves the credit, as she became the first woman to complete the qualifying course and the video of the achievement went viral in July. To date, the Catanzaro video has more than 8.7 million views, which is more viewers than caught any "ANW" episode this summer, a totally unfair and pointless comparison, but there you go. All it means is that for the first time, "American Ninja Warrior" wasn't just valuable fill-in programming for NBC. This summer, it was an asset and a part of the TV conversation.
- Daniel Fienberg