Ratings for “Jeopardy!” went into the stratosphere in the week ended July 18 as uber-contestant Ken Jennings passed the $1 million mark in total winnings.
Gameshow jumped 21% from the week before to a 10.2, its highest rating in over four years.
Compared to last year at this time, gamer’s ratings are up 62%.
For the second week in a row, “Jeopardy” beat “Wheel of Fortune” to become the No. 1 show in syndication. Before Jennings, “Jeopardy” hadn’t been No. 1 in at least 13 years, since Nielsen established its database in the 1991-92 season.
Over the past five weeks, “Jeopardy” has added more than 7 million viewers (an 84% increase), going from an average of 8.4 million on June 13 to a current tally of 15.4 million.
In many markets “Wheel of Fortune” airs immediately before or after “Jeopardy,” making it likely that the increased ratings for “Jeopardy” are also benefiting Pat Sajak.
“Wheel” was up 6% to an 8.6.
Generally, most other shows were down, with the only other pocket of strength in weekend programming. The top three weekly hours were all up by double digits.
“ET Tonight” benefited from extensive coverage of Martha Stewart’s sentencing, which was announced the prior Friday. It hit its highest ratings in six weeks, up 11% to a 3.1.
In second place, “Stargate SG-1” was up 10% to a 2.2; “The Practice,” in third place, was up 11% to a 2.0.
“Everybody Loves Raymond,” which recently began a TBS cable run, was the No. 1 off-net sitcom for the second week in a row, though its rating fell 3% to a 5.6.
No. 2 “Seinfeld” was up 4% to a 5.4, and “Friends,” in third, was up 4% to a 5.1.
Among talkshows, “Maury” had the biggest increase this week, up 14% to a 3.3 to hit its highest rating in 21 weeks.
“Maury” is one of the youngest-skewing yakkers in syndie and frequently does well in the summer when college kids are home.