Who are we?
The Youtuber’s Association of NORAD Tracks Santa Users, better known as Team YANTSU, was founded back in 2009 with the ambition to innovate the tracking experience through the introduction of interactivity. From a YouTube group to a full fledged show, it’s begun an international craze, every December for the past decade. The team is best known for its Annual TrackingSanta LIVE Show, which is gearing up for its 12th year! Not only does the group stage the longest running Santa tracking live show ever, it also archives past Santa Cams from NORAD as well as conducting interviews with former NORAD participants, giving a greater insight into how the program is run. More recently, the team have made ground-breaking advances in producing their own Santa Cams which serve as an extension to the Santa tracking experience. They’re the first tracking team to ever produce their own Santa Cams. Since the groups inception, all members have contributed to planning and producing each annual show which usually takes more than half a year to prepare for! Ultimately this makes the show run as smoothly as possible when it comes to tracking day.
The History Of The Show
The show was started back in 2009 when some people from a group on YouTube called Team YANTSU (YouTube Association for NORAD Tracks Santa Users) decided they wanted to start an online webcast throughout the whole day of December 24th whilst tracking Santa on his magical journey across the planet. Since then what was a group established by Marcus Pearl in 2008, consisting of YouTube channels archiving NORAD’s Cams has now become its own fully operational YouTube Channel, which has grossed over 200 subscribers since its inception in 2015. However, to know how the show really started to grow into the multi media broadcast it is now then we will have to rewind all the way back to 2009. When Patric Covey begun broadcasting the show to the thousands that tuned in. In the early years, the show was a 15 hour long webcast of Patric tracking Santa on BlogTV.
Now a discontinued webcasting platform, BlogTV allowed for a different format to the show which had Patric as the main hot and was joined by fellow Team YANTSU members each hour as Co-Hosts. They would give tracking updates to viewers on Santa’s whereabouts as well as route predictions that Santa might take. Due to the success of the first show in 2009, interest grew and a new tradition was born.
In 2010, the show was planned out step-by-step and pushed into effect throughout November and December 2010. From the serious planning, the show was prepped and ready for its second year in a row. That year they introduced music requests, Skype calling to Patric (Ganon136) and live shoutouts. On December 23rd 2010, Patric (the host of the show) got in contact with the Jacksonville Daily News and they did a newspaper article for him. The next day, Patric was in the newspaper and created more hype for the show. At the start of the show, the viewer count was around 50 viewers within the first 30 minutes of the 15 hour broadcast. After that, hundreds of people hopped in and out, watching the show throughout the day. Patric was contacted by WNCT in Eastern NC, to be on television that night and he did so in an online interview over Skype. More people jumped online to see this new sensation that had started only a year before. Records were set that year with over 3,000 people viewing the show as well as its preparations in the month of December 2010.
In 2011, Team YANTSU started planning the show in July and continued to plan ahead of schedule, in order to bring the audience the best Santa Tracking experience, in time for the show on December 24. The 2011 show was the biggest show yet, with people watching us track Santa from around the world! The highest peak viewers was 850+ people who tuned in on BlogTV. The total viewers for the 2011 show was 3,442.
2012 marked the start of a new era for NORAD as they were no longer partnered with Google. There was a few changes in YANTSU too, with the addition of many new members. This saw members like James Heaney and Nick Tay join the team and they brought many more ideas to the team. Patric again hosted the 15 hour show to over 2850 viewers, social media continued to grow for YANTSU, although this was only at a slow rate. Overall, the year was a great success for the team and was the final show to be hosted on BlogTV.
The first milestone for YANTSU came in 2013, this marked the 5th annual show for the team and a huge shake-up followed suit. Multi-hosting featured for the first time instead of Patric hosting the whole 15 hour show on his own. NORAD had become partnered with Microsoft too which meant a lot of fresh content for YANTSU to cover during the stream. Due to the closing down of BlogTV a new home for the show was found on Ustream and this impacted viewership for the show that year. Regardless of that it was a successful and innovative year which changed the show forever.
The first ever sponsorship for the team occured in 2014, where Team YANTSU partnered with the MyMerryChristmas Network, who in return gave us a new home for our website with our own domain being Santatracking.net. This was a huge achievement for the team as no other tracking group had ever been sponsored before. The website allowed us to optimise the show and tap into a new viewer base as the audience could now watch the show on the website whilst also being able to play games and explore other features which the site itself had. Nick Tay was named as the Head of Team YANTSU that year as Patric Covey stepped down to a less demanding role. New additions to the team included the likes of Liam Warden who brought in a fresh look to YANTSU for years to come.
In YANTSU’s 7th annual show saw the introduction of Santa Cams produced by the team itself. This is by far one of the largest steps forward that any team has ever taken and still to this date Team YANTSU are the only tracking team who provide their own set of Santa Cams. They were produced as an extension to the tracking day experience and to coincide with NORAD’s cams. They’re reconstruction taken from NORAD’s tracking data visualised into a 30 second clip with a voice-over from one of our members. They received a huge number of positive feedback when they were unveiled on the show. Although in this year cams purely covered the morning section of the stream as this was the first year the show was 24 hours. Team YANTSU itself had a makeover too, with new logos and social media designs as well as the introduction of Instagram. The show was again hosted on Ustream and saw a rise in viewers from 2014 and the largest on that platform. Finally, Team YANTSU had its very own YouTube channel, this would be the hub of all YANTSU content and would be the teams home for the future.
After much debate, the team unanimously voted for a change of platform for the show as Ustream wasn’t the most user-friendly platform. The new platform was YouTube, a fitting home for the team as it was going back to its roots as YouTube streaming has now become a lot better in comparison to the early years.
The move to YouTube allowed all Team YANTSU live and produced content to share one home. 2016 also saw the site of Team YANTSU be completely revamped and YANTSU Santa Cams had a complete overhaul with a few added locations. Considering it was the first stream ever on YouTube by Team YANTSU the 8th Annual Show reached over 2000 viewers which is one of the highest totals since the BlogTV days. Substantial growth was also seen on social media with more followers on Instagram as well as Facebook receiving more than 400 new likes on Christmas Eve. All in all, 2016 was a very successful and innovative year for the team.
The following year was the second to be hosted on YouTube and was the last Team YANTSU stream with Nick Tay at the helm. The 9th Annual Show featured a 24 hour stream consisting of multiple hosts, new Team YANTSU cams and a special interview with Jamie Robertson. The 2017 show brought back Patric Covey to the team after he was dubbed as the special guest to the broadcast. The year was a huge success and shows the monumental growth the team has experienced over the years.
The biggest milestone yet was reached in 2018, as Team YANTSU reached its 10th year, making it the oldest and longest running tracking team to date. A revamped website was introduced along with a strong social media push helped the 10th Annual TrackingSanta LIVE Show reach new heights. A whopping 17,000+ turned up to watch the show after a lot of hype generated by the first Santa Cam Marathon and the 5th Annual Pre-Show which both took place on December 23rd. The 10th year was the biggest show yet! It had broken records for views, likes, social media engagement as well as having two interviews with Karl Freudnt (Voice of the NORAD Tracks Santa Cams) and Stacey Knott (Former Head of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program). In addition, a whole selection of Santa cams were released by Team YANTSU proving to be the most popular and advanced yet! It truly was a show to remember for everyone involved and definitely lived up to the hype of being the 10th show.
Finally, after 11 years of tracking Santa the show goes on as it reaches it’s 12th Annual Show which hopes to live up to the expectations set in the brilliant show that took place last year! There are several new features to come in this new year such as the return of the blog and a dedicated Santa updates page whilst NORAD isn’t tracking Santa. Stay tuned for more to come later this year!