Contestant's winning streak causing ratings rise

“Jeopardy!” has paid Ken Jennings more than $1 million in winnings so far, but the gameshow should be thanking its contestant.

Overnight ratings for “Jeopardy!” have been on a steady increase since Jennings began his long winning streak June 2.

The metered-market Nielsen averages have gone up every full week Jennings has appeared, growing from a 6.8 rating/13 share the week of June 7 to a 9.0/18 last week and a boffo 11.1/21 through two nights this week.

In the national ratings for the week ended July 4, “Jeopardy!” was the only gameshow in the top five to improve in the ratings. It tied with “Wheel of Fortune” for the No. 1 show in syndication for the first time in years.

Most other programs went down — typical during holiday weeks — with some preempted by Wimbledon tennis coverage, which filled out 30 hours of NBC’s sked during the frame.

“Jeopardy!” ratings for the week ended July 4 were up 5% from the previous period and 36% from last year, making it the syndie strip with the biggest year-to-year improvement.

Ratings are the highest “Jeopardy!” has generated since February.

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