James Holzhauer’s two-week Jeopardy! winning streak is starting to give the long-running game show a ratings boost. The Las Vegas resident has now racked up ten nightly victories and won just under $700,000, and as word of his record-breaking victories spread, audiences seem to be tuning in. Per Nielsen, Monday’s Jeopardy! episode surged to a 7.7 household rating (percent of TV homes watching), up 15 percent from a week earlier and the biggest numbers for the show since Holzhauer made his debut on April 4. Last night’s installment also did very well, notching a 7.2 household rating — bigger than that of any broadcast show in prime time Wednesday. The Holzhauer effect is even helping with younger demo groups: For six of the ten nights of his run so far, Jeopardy! has beaten prime-time broadcast fare among adults under 35.
To be sure, it’s still too soon to declare Holzhauer a ratings juggernaut on par with Ken Jennings, whose multi-month domination of the show back in 2004 sent ratings up more than 20 percent and made Jeopardy! the No. 1 program in syndication for several weeks. For one thing, most of the data available so far is based on Nielsen’s overnight sample, which favors larger metropolitan areas. Plus, while Jeopardy! ratings have held up better than the ratings of similar shows in prime time, they haven’t been completely exempt from the Nielsen erosion that has plagued all of TV: Back when Jennings was on his tear, the show’s household numbers regularly were above a 9 rating and sometimes soared above an 11 rating. Still, these early numbers — particularly the demo ratings — are unquestionably impressive. And if Holzhauer’s hot streak holds, they figure to go even higher.