Ken Jennings ‘Jeopardy!’ Debut Week Dips in Ratings From Last Year

But strong 6.2 rating still leads all syndicated shows

Ken Jennings
Courtesy of Sony

Ken Jennings’ stint guest-hosting “Jeopardy!” drew a 6.2 rating in Week 1, down about 5% from the same week last year. It topped all of syndication in ratings, according to Nielsen. The former champion was the first to host episodes of the Sony TV quiz show following the passing of Alex Trebek.

The Jennings week averaged 10.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the second-most-watched (outside of Trebek’s final five episodes) week of the current season. Ken Jennings’ first evening behind the podium drew 11.3 million total viewers.

The comparable week in early 2020, episodes that were obviously hosted by Trebek, drew a 6.5 average rating.

For the previous week, Trebek’s final one, “Jeopardy!” averaged a 6.6 rating and 11.1 million viewers. That means Jennings’ run of five shows ticked down 6% in ratings week to week — both of those are relatively minor declines in the current TV landscape.

Coming in second place for the week ending Jan. 17, 2021 was again “Wheel of Fortune,” this time with a 5.8 rating. “Family Feud” and “Judge Judy” both had 5.4 ratings.

“Judge Judy” experienced some preemptions due to congressional debate over impeachment of President (still, at the time) Donald Trump.

“Live With Kelly and Ryan” and “Dr. Phil” both got 1.8 ratings; “Kelly Clarkson,” “Maury” and “Ellen” each averaged a 1.0.

Originally, Trebek’s last “Jeopardy!” episode was supposed to air on Christmas Day, but “due to anticipated preemptions” around the holidays, his final week of episodes was pushed back “in order to give his millions of fans a chance to see his final appearances,” according to Sony.

Trebek’s final “Jeopardy!” episode aired on Friday, Jan. 8. It was a sad occasion but a great success in TV ratings, drawing the most viewers — 14 million — in 419 days. That’s when James Holzhauer’s incredible winning streak came to an end.

On a whole, Trebek’s final week grew 29% in ratings from the previous one, reaching a season-high.

Trebek passed away after a long and public battle with cancer on Sunday, Nov. 8.

Jennings’ first episode behind the podium aired on Monday, Jan. 11. Jennings holds the “Jeopardy!” records for wins and cash prizes. He also won the show “Greatest of All Time” tournament.

Future guest hosts of the program include “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards, journalist Katie Couric, NFL star Aaron Rodgers, “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker and “Call Me Kat” star Mayim Bialik.


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