David Blaine is taking his stunts to YouTube. The magician announced today that his first major live event in a decade will take place exclusively on his YouTube channel. Called Ascension, the event will entail Blaine attaching himself to a variety of helium balloons and attempting to float across the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York. The weather-permitting event will happen on August 31st across multiple hours. Verizon is sponsoring the show, which was made in partnership with YouTube Originals.
Blaine’s high-stakes stunts have traditionally been broadcast over network TV. In 1999, he was buried beneath a three-ton water tank for a week, subsisting only on a couple tablespoons of water a day. In 2000, he attempted to encase himself in ice for 72 hours but failed. In more recent years, he’s released magic specials that involve him performing tricks for celebrities like Drake. Ascension is his second special during the COVID-19 pandemic; in the first, he performed virtual, video call magic tricks during an ABC special in April.
A YouTube special feels like the next proper home for Blaine’s stunts, especially given the platform’s global reach. Other networks already clip his specials and put them on YouTube for more traffic, so going straight to the platform streamlines the entire process. The clip of his Drake magic trick has nearly 3 million views, while another with actress Margot Robbie has nearly 2 million after only going up a week ago. One with Jimmy Fallon is at 30 million views. He knows there’s an appetite for his content on YouTube, so he’s going straight to the platform and avoiding TV altogether.