Insights

Who Should be the Next Jeopardy Host: Take 2

2 September, 2021

Following the ousting of the controversial Mike Richards, Jeopardy! is back to square one in its search for the next host of one of the most beloved game shows in TV history.

Jeopardy! held a highly publicized audition period over the last few months and we have tracked which guest hosts garnered the most audience attention for the series.

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.

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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. A lower level of demand for the show without the star power and familiarity of Alex Trebek isn’t surprising, but the downward trajectory indicates that audiences are losing attention for the show as the season goes on and hosts come and go.

The upward turn in demand for Jeopardy! in the past few weeks indicates that as the show reached the conclusion of its guest host rotation and a decision was imminent, audiences began paying more attention. Dedicated fans of the show have weighed in on how the rotating guest hosts have been a distraction from the game itself, going against Trebek's own advice to "stay out of the way and let the contestants be the stars".

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In the above chart we measured the average demand for Jeopardy! while each talent was hosting the show. This is a good indicator of how much audience attention each was able to pull while hosting. The top 3 hosts who generated the most demand for the show are an eclectic mix:

  • 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 hosted the second most in-demand episodes, and achieved the highest demand of all the news anchor type personalities that hosted. Jeopardy! averaged 30.3x the average series demand with the CNN anchor hosting.
  • 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.
  • Ousted host Mike Richards drew the fifth most demand for the show, and announced fill in host Mayim Bialik - who also finds herself under fire for past controversial remarks about vaccines - was the twelfth most.

Leveraging Parrot's Talent Demand, we can now factor in how much demand each host attracts in their own right, not simply the demand they attract for Jeopardy! This is another important piece of the puzzle that should be considered when choosing a new host for the show.

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One thing to note - demand for most of the top guest hosts rose in 2021 compared to 2020. This isn't a surprise as a high profile gig like hosting Jeopardy! would raise awareness for each of these individuals.

Audience demand for Levar Burton is up 167% in 2021 vs 2020, Mayim Bialik is up 134%, Aaron Rodgers is up 76.9%, and Katie Couric is up 33.7%. Aaron Rodgers is by far the most in-demand talent of these guests hosts, with 38.3x more demand than the average talent in the US so far this year. There seems to be a clear symbiotic effect between Rodgers bringing a new audience to Jeopardy!, and Jeopardy! giving him an entirely new audience beyond his NFL performances and State Farm ads.

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Meanwhile, Ken Jennings has a very low overall talent demand, as he is more of a niche talent who is universally known by hardcore Jeopardy! fans. His audience demand is down in 2021 (2.7x) compared to 2020 (3.6x), likely due to a drop in attention following the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time tournament in 2020. Anderson Cooper’s talent demand is also down from 2020 to 2021, which makes sense since 2020 was a presidential election year in the midst of the beginning of the COVID epidemic, when consumers paid far more attention to news personalities such as Cooper.

In conclusion, Ken Jennings is a safe choice and would likely do well to keep current Jeopardy! fans happy. His guest hosted shows were the most in-demand of the year so far. However, his individual talent demand is relatively low, and he remains a fairly niche cultural figure who might be hard-pressed to expand the existing Jeopardy! fanbase.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers hosted shows were only 6% less in demand than those of Jennings, while Aaron Rodgers’ talent demand is 14 times higher than that of Jennings. If Jeopardy! wants to expand its audience and bring a whole new fanbase to the show, a host with the mainstream appeal of Aaron Rodgers would do the job.

Both Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric have high demand in their own right, and drew more attention for the show than the initial host selected, Mike Richards. These experienced news anchors could provide a middle path between Jennings (which would excite hardcore fans the most) and Rodgers (who has the potential to bring entirely new audiences).

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