In the last couple weeks, Mike Richards went from the most obscure person to guest host Jeoardpy! to a household name. Last Wednesday, he was officially named the late Alex Trebek’s permanent replacement, although another stand-in, Mayim Bialik, landed a prime-time spin-off. This, of course, enraged fans of LeVar Burton, who many wanted to see get the gig. But Richards did have higher ratings than every other guest host — with one exception.
As per Entertainment Weekly, Richards scored an average Nielsen rating of 5.9, while Burton, despite his online popularity, averaged only 4.4. (His tenure, however, partly overlapped with the Olympics, which, despite its record low ratings, surely siphoned off some viewers.) And then there’s Ken Jennings, the show’s most famous and accomplished champion. He had one point better, an average of 6.0.
There is an asterisk to this intel, though, argues EW:
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.
If it’s true that more viewers were tuning in to Jeopardy! in the wake of Trebek’s death, when the guest hosts first began, then that may also explain Richards’ perhaps surprising popularity. He was, in fact, the second guest host, following Jennings.
While Jennings, whose run lasted a record 74 consecutive wins, won’t be back to hosting Jeopardy! any time soon, the show is on hiatus till September, when Richards will assume the mantle. The show has instead been re-airing old episodes, including some of Jennings’ greatest hits.