tv ratings

Jeopardy! Was the Most Watched Prime-Time TV Show Last Week

Photo: Jeopardy!

Jeopardy!’s James Holzhauer–powered ratings surge shows no signs of slowing down. The venerable quizzer brought in an average audience of 13.3 million viewers for the Nielsen measurement period ending May 5, with 8.3 percent of all U.S. television homes tuning in to see the pride of Las Vegas continue his monthlong winning streak. The latter percentage represents Jeopardy!’s best weekly average in over 14 years (since March 2005) and a stunning improvement of 41 percent over the same week a year ago. Perhaps even more impressive, the 13.3 million total-viewer figure gave Jeopardy! a bigger linear same-day audience than any TV program airing that week, including CBS’s The Big Bang Theory (12.5 million) and HBO’s Game of Thrones (11.8 million), which topped the broadcast and cable prime-time standings, respectively.

As undeniably impressive as Jeopardy!’s ratings hot streak is, it’s likely TBBT and GoT will average more viewers than the Alex Trebek–hosted game show once delayed viewing and streaming data are tallied. TBBT, for example, has already grown its audience to 16.9 million viewers with the addition of a week’s worth of DVR replays. And with reruns and streaming, HBO has said GoT is drawing more than 40 million viewers this season. Jeopardy! gets a lift from delayed viewing too, though quiz and talk shows historically have gotten nowhere near the boost from DVRs that scripted series receive. But ratings geekery aside, the Holzhauer effect on Jeopardy!’s numbers is real, and it’s spectacular. Since his first appearance on April 4, the show’s average audience has increased every week — from 9.6 million to the most recent 13.3 million. Holzhauer has been absent for the past two weeks because of a special tournament featuring teachers, but his already-taped episodes are scheduled to resume on Monday. He has won close to $1.7 million so far.

Update, June 5, at 6 p.m.: Interrupting Holzhauer’s hot streak for a two-week teachers’ tournament slowed down some of Jeopardy!’s Nielsen momentum. Per newly released data, the quiz show averaged 12.4 million viewers and a 7.8 household rating when Holzhauer’s pretaped episodes resumed airing the week of May 20. While that was good enough to make Jeopardy! the No. 1 show in syndication, and 34 percent ahead of the show’s Nielsen numbers for the same week in 2018, it represented a decline of the show’s numbers before it took its tournament break. (As noted above, Jeopardy! attracted 13.3 million viewers in the week before the tournament break began.)

Jeopardy! Was the Most Watched Prime-Time TV Show Last Week