There’s a crowded field of video creators on YouTube, some with followings that rival movie stars and pro athletes. But only one group sinks basketball shots out of airplanes on General Motors’ dime: Dude Perfect.

But who is Dude Perfect, and how did the group turn zany trick shots into a full-time media business? Since there is no such thing as a dumb question, we’ve cobbled together the primer below to answer them for you.

Who is this Dude Perfect?
Dude Perfect is not a man. It is five men and a panda.

Who are these guys?
There’s Cody Jones, the tall guy; Tyler Toney, the bearded guy; Garrett Hilbert, the redhead; Coby and Cory Cotton, the twins; and Panda, the mascot. There is no real Dude Perfect panda, sadly. They ordered the suit from China.

How did the crew form?
Tyler and Garrett were high school classmates, but the full Dude Perfect crew came together at Texas A&M, where they went to college. They played intramural sports together, bonded and ended up living as roommates.

That all sounds pretty normal. How did they become online stars?
Hanging out in their backyard, they bet each other sandwiches on crazy basketball shots and started one-upping each other. Someone pulled out a camera and started filming, throwing the footage on YouTube. Those videos took off, so they produced more, putting more effort into production values and constantly upping the bar with even crazier trick shots.

Like what sort of shots?
One time they cut down a tree and turned it into a giant slingshot, which they used to fling a basketball into a hoop 100 yards away. That took a few tries.

So how popular are these guys now?
They’re big. The main Dude Perfect YouTube channel has 4.7 million subscribers and close to 44 million monthly views, according to YouTube analytics platform OpenSlate. They have a major presence on Facebook, too: Their page has 11.8 million likes, and all of their videos rack up millions of views on the platform. A brand sponsoring their videos can expect at least several million media impressions.

Is that how they started shooting basketballs out of planes?
Yes. They made a crazy shot out of the Goodyear Blimp, too. Dude Perfect scored those opportunities because of its massive following on YouTube and other social platforms, which has captured the interest of major brands, including Fiat, Adidas, Gillette, Gatorade, Pringles and Pizza Hut, among others.

What do brands offer Dude Perfect?
Besides lots of money, brands work with Dude Perfect to create compelling trick-shot videos, whether that entails Fiat shutting down a California airport for some stunt driving trick shots or Gillette handing the Dude Perfect crew free rein of the Gillette Stadium. Whistle Sports, the multichannel network that represents Dude Perfect, helps connect the group with some of these brands, as well as professional athletes and leagues.

What does the professional sports world think of Dude Perfect?
For the most part, they’re fans. Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, started showing his team Dude Perfect videos in team meetings. The Seahawks loved them, so they ended up inviting Dude Perfect to Seattle to collaborate on a video. “The guys have developed some unique respect in the pro community for how difficult it is for them to do the things that they do, and then make it entertaining,” said Jeff Toney, Dude Perfect’s business manager (and Tyler’s dad). “But the No. 1 reason athletes want to work with us is, it’s just a lot of fun.”

What’s next for Dude Perfect?
They’ve got a television show in the works with Superjacket Productions, though the group has yet to announce the network. They’re breaking into the Chinese market with international distribution on popular Chinese video-streaming platforms. And they’re looking to do more mobile apps like the Dude Perfect iOS game. “It’s this new frontier of celebrity, athlete and influencer,” said Toney. “People sometimes talk about Dude Perfect as these YouTube stars — and we love the YouTube platform — but Dude Perfect has become much more of a global entertainment icon that reaches audiences through a variety of mediums.”

Main image courtesy of Dude Perfect

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