James Holzhauer tested the maxim that all good things have to stop, and Darren Rovell tried his best to spoil the news that they, indeed, do. The Jeopardy! champion’s historic 32-game run on the trivia show came to an end on Monday when he lost control in Double Jeopardy and could not overcome the lead of Emma, who knew exactly what it would take to dethrone one of the show’s most dominant champions ever.
Holzhauer became a pretty significant figure in sports over his Jeopardy! run — he has a background in sports gambling, has interest in working for a pro sports team and, well, game shows are sports. But many people who cover sports don’t seem to understand that not everything is like live sports. Shows can be spoiled, especially when it comes to syndicated game shows that air at different times in different markets across these United States.
Enter The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, formerly of ESPN, who has made a habit of caring more about dollar signs and brands more than the human experience when it comes to sports. On Monday afternoon, well before the evening time slot when Jeopardy! airs in most markets, Rovell tweeted out a link to an interview he did with Holzhauer that spoiled the result of Monday’s episode.
Perhaps aware of the potential backlash, Rovell noted that the episode had already aired in “multiple markets.” But if this 2014 look into when Jeopardy! is broadcast in relation to Wheel of Fortune is still even remotely accurate, the answer to how many “multiple” would be is about about five out of more than 200 markets, and none of them are statistically significant in regard to the percentage of people actually watching the show. If you live in Montgomery-Selma, Alabama, for example, enjoy watching at 9:30 a.m. local time. If you’re in a city like Boston, well, you wait until 7:30 p.m. like most of the rest of the country.
Tweets like that are particularly egregious to anyone outside of the eastern time zone, which is why people were furious at Rovell and basically anyone who spoiled Jeopardy! well before it aired in most markets.
Even some of his former coworkers were steamed.
As basically everyone in his ratio’d mentions pointed out, about 1.5 million households had actually aired Jeopardy! by the time Rovell spoiled it for his more than 2 million followers online. That’s a fraction of total households in the United States, meaning he technically told more people about the result with a single tweet than had the chance to actually see it air on TV at the time he pressed send.
Even this story, publishing just after Jeopardy! ends in most time zones on the east coast, is technically a spoiler for dozens of markets in other time zones, especially on the west coast. But Rovell utilized the bullhorn that is his Twitter account to get eyes on his story multiple hours before the show traditionally aired, with no warning to anyone who didn’t want to know what happened until they saw it themselves.
Even his defenses of the decision to help spoil the episode were, in effect, telling on himself.
That means 46 states, with many millions of people in them, were still unable to watch the episode once Rovell rushed in to spill the beans. One of Rovell’s claims is that Holzhauer had hinted in his own tweets that his run could end on Monday. But unlike Rovell, who straight up said “James Holzhauer loses,” the now-former Jeopardy! champion had a bit of nuance to his hints that the run would come to an end.
But it’s not the first time Rovell has failed to understand what actual humans are interested in and a fundamental inability to realize that sometimes there are things more important than numbers.