Ratings for King World Productions' Jeopardy! finally came down to earth in the week ending July 25, despite super-contestant Ken Jennings continuing his winning streak.
Week-to-week, Jeopardy! slipped 6%, from a 10.2 to a 9.6, after going straight up for the five prior weeks.
Still, Jennings played his 38th game in a row and extended his winnings to $1,321,660, making the Utah software engineer the biggest money winner in Jeopardy! history. The most money anyone has ever won on a game show is $2.18 million, a record set three years ago on ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Jennings took the Jeopardy! season to the end of its original episodes on Friday, July 23, winning $75,000 to set the show's one-day record.
Even with the drop-off, Jeopardy! easily topped all shows in syndication for the fourth consecutive week, including one tie with King World's Wheel of Fortune in the week ending July 4.
Compared to last year at this time, Jeopardy! is up 60%. Wheel of Fortune, the usual syndication leader, continued to run second, dipping 1% to an 8.5, but still pacing 15% ahead of last year and apparently still benefiting from airing adjacent to Jeopardy! during Jennings' streak.
Elsewhere in syndication, most shows were lower as homes-using-television (known as HUT levels) dropped by 195,000 households from the prior week.
In daytime, although none of the talk shows rated 1.0 or higher were up in the slow summer week, most of the court shows improved in the first week after the sentencing of domestic diva Martha Stewart.
Five of the seven gavelers were higher and the other two held steady. Paramount's Judge Judy, the queen of courts, was up 2% to a 4.5. Paramount's Judge Joe Brown was up 3% to a 3.4, its highest rating in five weeks.
Twentieth's Divorce Court was up 4% to a 2.5, tying for third place with Warner Bros.' People's Court, which was flat. Warner Bros.' Judge Greg Mathis was up 5% to a 2.3, followed by Sony's Judge Hatchett up 5% to a 2.1 and Twentieth's Texas Justice, unchanged at a 1.8.
Interest in Stewart's sentence, however, did not appear to affect the ratings for King World's Martha Stewart Living, which remained in 15th place among all talk shows, unchanged at a 0.7 and down 42% from last year. Of note, Gone Fishin,' a part of the Buena Vista V movie package, landed in the top-10 highest-rated syndie movies of the season.
The 1997 Joe Pesci comedy scored a 3.8 , giving it 7th place for the week. The number-one movie of the season was The Santa Clause, a part of the Buena Vista III package, which scored a 7.7 last December.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
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