Hear from the trick-shot artists with an absolutely massive following across YouTube and social media before they host their first alternate stream of TNF on Prime Video.
It may be that you know Tyler Toney, Cory and Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, and Garrett Hilbert by their government names, but they’re far better known as Dude Perfect. A group of athletic and comedic trick-shot artists that first came together as college roommates at Texas A&M, the guys have become unbelievably successful since they started posting videos to YouTube in 2009.
With more than 58 million YouTube subscribers— placing them among the 25 largest followings on the ubiquitous platform— 19 million Facebook followers, 11.6 million on Instagram, and another half-million on Twitter for good measure, Dude Perfect’s overall digital reach rivals or surpasses any American sports league, player, or personality. Naturally, it made all the sense in the world when Amazon tapped the group to create an alternate broadcast feed for its Thursday Night Football streams on Prime Video.
“It’s a project not really like any we’ve done before,” Toney told Boardroom, “but we are obviously all massive football fans in general and think we have a really cool opportunity to introduce a younger audience who may not be even football fans or sports fans in general. We can introduce them to Thursday Night Football on Prime and it’s an opportunity for them to sit down, spend some time with their family, and we’ll have different activities and things for them to do during the game.”
Dude Perfect will host at least four broadcasts this season featuring challenges, dares, and funny family-friendly fun — including a special feature called “Dunk Tank Drive.” Picture this: Two people are set above opposing dunk tanks and will each get chances to guess if the next play on the field will be a run or a pass. If they get the play call right, they’ll have a chance to throw a ball and dunk their opponent.
“We are all above-average football fans, but we’re not Tony Romo out there,” Toney said. “It’ll be very casual and laid back, but we’re also going to do things that you would expect to see in an Overtime video or in a battle video.”
What started as just a fun college activity among friends became more serious when brands started reaching out to ask if they would accept payment to make branded YouTube videos. They became so popular that in 2015, the group quit their respective day jobs to transform Dude Perfect from a side hustle to a main gig.
“It was definitely scary for all of us,” Cory Cotton told Boardroom. “The main reason it was nerve-wracking is because there was not really anyone that had done exactly what we were trying to do. There wasn’t a roadmap for it, but we felt like we had an awesome opportunity to do something different than what was out there, and we felt like if we put all of our effort into it together, we could do it.”
The drive was there, but three of the five members were married at the time, putting additional pressure on the guys who chose to leave stable jobs to pursue the Dude Perfect dream.
“They had some pretty fun conversations with father-in-laws and families and wives,” Cotton said, “but fortunately, we’ve got a really good support system around us and everyone was excited for us to try something new and to really go for it.”
They hold 14 Guinness World Records and scored collabs with superstars like Aaron Rodgers, Chris Paul, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Odell Beckham, Drew Brees. They’ve gone on nationwide tours, signed book deals, had a run on cable TV, and produced a series called Overtime that’s generated more than five million YouTube views in less than a week.
All told, you can say that the Dude Perfect team made the right call in going all-in on this thing.
In April, Dude Perfect got the green light from Augusta National to shoot an “All Sports Golf Battle” on the hallowed course’s Amen Corner to try and bring in casual fans to The Masters. The video included cameos from Bryson DeChambeau and Jim Nantz as they tried to throw Nerf balls, hit baseballs, and use croquet mallets— with the added stipulation that you could only use a specific piece of equipment only once— to travel the full 520 yards to the pin and and sink a putt, get the lowest score, and win the battle.
“That video was certainly not directed for or intended for the hardcore golf fans, for the people who already know the names of all 18 holes at Augusta,” Toney said. “That was for the people who had no interest in golf and the kids who could care less that the Masters was on. After we put out that video, we got all kinds of incredible comments from, dads, parents, and even people from other leagues that thought that was brilliant. The exposure that we brought to The Masters, and although it was a very shocking video even for us at the time, it was really cool to see that pan out through the lifetime of that video.”
The Prime Video broadcasts, which will take place from Dude Perfect’s offices in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, will feature a couple of guests per game who will undergo physical challenges, fan-submitted social media content to be shared live on air, and a few family-oriented challenges as well.
“They’ll have an opportunity as a family to participate or do their own competition at home as well,” Toney said, “and just provide a little bit of an activity rather than just sitting there and watching three hours of a football game.”
Now that all five members of Dude Perfect have young kids and families of their own, they can truly relate to the type of audience they’re trying to reach on Prime Video.
“We want to sit down on a Thursday night and watch the game, but you’ve got kids running around,” Cotton said. “We have the opportunity to create a broadcast that really, truly gets everyone in the room leaning into where you don’t have to leave a parent stranded trying to wrestle the kids while they don’t wanna watch the game. No matter how young your kids are, we’re trying to provide something that will draw everyone’s attention and hopefully gamify the experience and get the entire family dialed in.”
All told, Toney, Cotton and the rest of the crew are looking forward to putting out a fun, friendly, entertaining product to bring fans of all ages closer to football — and fielding feedback from their tens of millions of fans more or less in real time.
“We’re excited to be at the forefront of how to engage, especially a younger audience, and help bring a new category of how to watch football,” Cotton said.