Ratings for King World Productions' Jeopardy! went through the roof in the week ending July 18, as contestant Ken Jennings passed the $1 million mark in total winnings. By Friday, July 16, Jennings had won his 33rd consecutive game.
For the week, Jeopardy! was up 21% to a 10.2, its highest rating in four and a half years and an increase of 62% over last year at this time.
For the second week in a row, Jeopardy! was syndication's number-one show. Prior to Jennings, it had not been number one since Nielsen established its current electronic database in the 1991-92 season. Jeopardy! has increased its viewers by 84% since the week ending June 13, when Jennings had won only 8 games in a row. That takes the show's average audience from 8.4 million viewers to a current 15.4 million.
King World's Wheel of Fortune is likely benefiting from Jennings. Paired with Jeopardy! in many major markets, Wheel was up 6% to an 8.6. It finished as syndication's runner up for a second week.
Elsewhere, the weekend programs showed strength, where the top-three weekly hours all improved by double-digits. Paramount's Entertainment Tonight Weekend, which covered Martha Stewart's sentencing extensively, was the weekly hour leader by a wide margin, gaining 11% to a 3.1, its highest rating in six weeks. MGM/NBC's Stargate SG-1 was in second place, up 10% to a 2.2, and Twentieth's The Practice was in third, up 11% to a 2.0.
Also of note, King World's Everybody Loves Raymond, which recently added a run on TBS, made it two weeks in a row at the top of the sitcom heap, despite slipping 3% to a 5.6. In second place, Sony's Seinfeld was up 4% to a 5.4 and Warner Bros.' Friends was up 4% to a 5.1.
Back in first-run, most strips had modest declines as the summer viewing levels decreased by approximately 746,000 households from the prior week. Talk shows were mixed, while court shows were soft and magazines barely moved.
In talk, five shows were up, five were down and two were unchanged. NBC Universal's Maury, the youngest-skewing talker among the week's top-five, also jumped the most of any talk show, gaining 14% to a 3.3 for its highest ratings in 21 weeks. All of the court shows were down except the top-two, Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown, which held steady at a 4.4 and a 3.3, respectively.
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