Jeopardy has found its new permanent host to step in for the late Alex Trebek: Mike Richards, an executive producer of the show, while The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is set to take on hosting duties for prime-time and spin-off series. Apparently the decision wasn't based on ratings alone. During his trial run, Richards did bring in a larger audience than most of the other guest hosts this year. However, one still bested him in that regard.
Ken Jennings, who maintains the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy with 74 consecutive wins, had an average Nielsen rating of 6.0, making him the guest host with the highest rating, as reported by The Wrap. That does come with a bit of an asterisk.
Jennings was the first to guest host Jeopardy following the death of Trebek, with his episodes aired from Jan. 4 to Feb. 19 of this year. If the ratings for the show are any indication, there seemed to be general interest in seeing who would be tapped to fill in for Trebek in those first few months. Jennings also had the advantage of being someone the show's audience knew well.
Jeopardy Productions, Inc. Ken Jennings guest hosting 'Jeopardy'
Richards followed Jennings as guest host from Feb. 22 to March 5, garnering an average Nielsen rating of 5.9, the second highest of the guest hosts. From there, the ratings naturally began tapering off. Bialik, who guested from May 31 to June 11, saw a 5.1 average, followed by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, who hosted from July 19 to July 23, and earned a rating of 4.7.
Then came fan favorite LeVar Burton. Ratings for his episodes, which aired from July 26 to July 30 during the Tokyo Olympics, averaged the lowest of all the guest hosts so far with 4.4. After completing his run, the beloved Roots, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek actor reflected on his Jeopardy journey to EW, calling it "alternately exhilarating and frightening and fulfilling and frustrating."
Despite Burton previously telling EW he doesn't "believe there is anyone out there who is better suited" to take over as host than himself, after Richards was announced as new host, the actor's spokesperson released a statement saying Burton was never in talks with Sony for the gig.
Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions Mike Richards guest-hosting 'Jeopardy'
Richards previously spoke with EW about his previous discussions with Trebek about finding a successor after his death.
"He wanted to be very careful to not weigh in on that. Not that he didn't care, because he cared at a very high level, [but] he knew how influential any suggestion he made would be, and he wanted us to come to it the way we wanted to, not because of what he wanted," Richards told EW.
"So he and I spent a lot of time talking about what attributes a host should have, what we should look for, those types of things," he continued. "He always said that the stars of Jeopardy were the contestants and the game, not the host. We spent time talking about that, but he was very reticent to put out names. In fact, he said two names once, kind of off the cuff because I think they were just two people that were in his head, and he watched the firestorm that erupted around that. I think that was when he went, 'Okay, I'm not going to do that to this process.'"
This article has been updated with the average ratings for LeVar Burton's Jeopardy episodes.