Jeopardy! has been in the midst of what has been called the most high profile job search in America. Following the death of Alex Trebek on November 8, 2020 fans around the world were left wondering how the beloved host of 37 years could possibly be replaced. He had become synonymous with the game show and a fixture in the lives of dedicated fans.
The decision on who will step into the role is clearly being carefully considered. Producers of the show made the decision to finish out the season with a series of guest hosts filling in for stints of one or two weeks. This unique approach has given fans the chance to experience each and weigh in on who Alex’s replacement will be. It has also provided us with a unique opportunity to measure hosts’ performance before a decision is made.
In this first insights installment on the question of ‘Who should be the next Jeopardy! host?’ we take a look at the demand trajectory of Jeopardy! this year compared to previous seasons and also consider which hosts have driven the most demand for the show to date.
We measured the demand for Jeopardy! for the past five years to get a sense of how this season’s performance to date stacks up. Looking at the demand trajectory for each season from the start of the year is a relatively fair comparison because each season runs from September to July or August, resuming from winter break at the beginning of January. Therefore this captures the performance of the second part of each season.
It is pretty clear from the chart that the show has struggled to find its footing and keep audiences’ attention this year. Demand for Jeopardy! has been on a fairly consistent downward trajectory in 2021 so far, contrasting with previous years. This is a bit surprising. One might initially think that introducing a new host every one or two weeks would keep audiences curious and tuning in to see how each new personality handles the job. This is clearly not happening, as audience attention for the show has gradually fallen off.
It would have been expected to see a lower level of demand for the show without the star power and familiarity of Alex Trebek, but the downward trajectory indicates that audiences are losing attention for the show as the season goes on and hosts come and go. This adds a certain amount of urgency to resolving the question of who should be the next host.
In the above chart we measured the average demand for Jeopardy! while each of the above were hosting the show. This is a good indicator of how much audience attention each was able to pull while hosting. It should be noted that this is an evolving ranking as there are still new hosts scheduled. Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton, David Faber, and Joe Buck are all still upcoming hosts.
The top 3 hosts who generated the most demand for the show are an interesting mix, with different experience. Ken Jennings, no stranger to Jeopardy! fans, attracted the highest demand for the show while he was hosting. During this time Jeopardy! averaged 31.1x the average series demand.
Anderson Cooper was the second most in-demand host, and achieved the highest demand of all the news anchor type personalities that hosted.
Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, was perhaps the most surprising selection as guest host. Jeopardy averaged its third highest demand during his hosting stint, with 29.3 times the average series demand.
It seems as though hosts picked for their science knowledge did not perform as well. Dr. Oz, Sanjay Gupta, and even Mayim Bialik (billed as actress and neuroscientist) all ranked in the bottom half of hosts who drew the least attention to the show.
Beyond just their ability to attract attention to the show, each of these hosts bring unique strengths. Former champions like Ken Jennings or Buzzy Cohen will be sure to excite the most dedicated Jeopardy fans. Talent like Anderson Cooper or other news hosts likely have some of the broadest familiarity. Unexpected picks like Aaron Rodgers will likely have the potential to draw new fan bases to Jeopardy that might not otherwise watch the show.
Stay tuned for the next installment where we look at the Talent Demand for each of these hosts as well as how well each fits with the Jeopardy audience.