'The Challenge: USA' Offers a Fresh Take on the Original MTV Series
'The Challenge: USA' is a spinoff of the MTV version of the show, but how is it different? It's on another network, but it's still pretty similar.
MTV's The Challenge has been around for literal decades. And, while it doesn't appear to be going anywhere any time soon, CBS just rolled out The Challenge: USA, a spinoff series which is similar to the original, with a few key changes. So, how is The Challenge: USA different from the MTV version of the series?
As the title suggests, the contestants in the new series are from the U.S. rather than reality shows outside of the country. Recent seasons of MTV's The Challenge featured players from not only U.S.-based reality shows like Big Brother, Are You the One?, and The Real World, but also shows from the U.K., Romania, Turkey, Brazil, and Nigeria. This time, producers are looking for America's best players.
How is 'The Challenge: USA' different from the MTV version of the show?
The big thing that sets The Challenge: USA apart from the original MTV show is the fact that all of the contestants are from U.S. reality shows, including The Amazing Race, Survivor, Big Brother, and Love Island USA. They are also given a $1,000 stipend to start out with, and they must grow their accounts to $5,000 in order to have a shot at making it to the finals. They can earn more money through challenges and eliminations.
Another change in The Challenge: USA from the OG series is that new teams of two are formed in each challenge. So if one player is from an alliance and their new teammate happens to be aligned with someone else, they'll still be forced to work together.
After the first challenge, the teams will be selected by a Challenge algorithm — meaning that the pairings are, seemingly, completely random.
Players won't get to work together more than once (until there are no other options), so they'll have to stay on their toes throughout, and make sure that they make the right alliances.
This change will switch things up and make for a game that will essentially pit everyone against each other with alliances falling left and right.
Like the MTV series, one male and one female player will be chosen at the end of The Challenge: USA to win. While the winners have split $1 million in recent seasons of The Challenge, the victors on the CBS series stand to win $500,000.
They will then go on to compete in the Paramount Plus show The Challenge: Global Championship, though that title could change before it officially premieres on the streaming platform. This adds another element to the prize package, which is different from the MTV show.
The biggest change between the two programs is, potentially, the shift in the network.
Why did 'The Challenge' move to CBS?
As fans of the MTV original likely noticed early on, The Challenge: USA airs on CBS rather than MTV. While some viewers may have thought that the move to CBS meant that the MTV show was over, The Challenge: USA and The Challenge are two different shows airing on two different networks.
All of the cast members on The Challenge: USA previously appeared on other reality shows that air on CBS. Debuting the spinoff on the same network should help to drive viewership, and to bring those fans over to the new show.
Ahead of the premiere of the CBS series, showrunner Justin Booth told Entertainment Weekly that The Challenge: USA marks a new era for the franchise. The audience could generally be older, and more people likely will be tuning in.
"We know that the demographic is different, it's a more mature audience for sure, and there's a lot more eyeballs on it," he told the outlet. "But we run the show the way that we run it any season."
The MTV will return for Seasons 38 and 39 in the future.
A lot of the cast of 'The Challenge: USA' is from other CBS reality shows.
Much of The Challenge: USA cast is from reality shows that fall under the CBS umbrella, which makes sense since The Challenge spinoff is on CBS rather than MTV. Xavier Prather, who won Season 23 of Big Brother, is part of the cast, as well as Azah Awasum, from Xavier's season. Survivor's Danny McCray and Shan Smith are also among the cast.
James Wallington, who won The Amazing Race Season 32, joins them, along with Leo Temory, who was in three seasons of The Amazing Race. There are also players from other seasons and other reality shows.
But they all have one thing in common — they're from the U.S. and competing for the unofficial title of America's best player.
The Challenge's longtime host T.J. Lavin is the host of the CBS spinoff. While the series is similar to the original, it marks the first time The Challenge is on network television rather than cable, which is a pretty big deal.
Watch The Challenge: USA on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on CBS. You can also stream the series on Paramount Plus.