How Tough Mudders and ‘Ninja Warrior’ turned primal fears into big business


A look at the growth of the OCR & Ninja Warrior industries, looking at how the element of fear, along with teamwork, has been a driving factor of that growth.

Obstacle course racing, or OCR, is a $500 million business, with the number of races increasing by 2,300 from 2014 to 2015, according to Running USA. “American Ninja Warrior” has seen applications to compete rise from 1,000 in its first season to 70,000 in its eighth.

But the industry didn’t grow from about 50,000 participants in 2009 to about 5 million in 2015 based purely on fun. OCR appeals to primal fears — and overcoming them.

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