‘Jeopardy!’: Anderson Cooper Guest Hosting Stint Draws Lowest Ratings in Show History

by Thad Mitchell

Upon losing legendary host Alex Trebek in November of last year, Jeopardy! officials knew they had a tough task on their hands.

Knowing they would be unable to completely fill Trebek’s shows, Jeopardy! producers chose a rather unorthodox path. Instead of selecting a permanent host right away, they would utilize celebrities to fill in as guest hosts. The move gives Jeopardy! plenty of time to make the right decision on selecting a permanent host while also keeping the show moving.

So far, six celebrities have completed their Jeopardy! hosting tenures with journalist Anderson Cooper the latest behind the podium. Cooper wrapped up his two-week hosting stint just last Friday, passing the host’s podium onto fellow journalist Bill Whitaker.

While Cooper did a fine job of keeping the show’s quick pacing intact, the Jeopardy! audience did not seem to connect with him.

Jeopardy! Guest Host’s Nielsen Scores Revealed

Cooper’s first week as the quiz show’s host resulted in poor ratings. He drew only a 5.1 score on the Nielsen rating scale, the lowest total for a Jeopardy! guest host to date. Cooper’s poor score knocked Jeopardy! out of the top spot for game show ratings. The top spot was claimed by “Family Feud” which took in a 5.5 Nielsen rating in the same week.

Furthermore, Cooper’s score represents a 7 percent decrease in ratings from the previous week. Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” had the second-lowest first-week score with a 5.2 Nielsen rating. This comes after Jeopardy! fans started a petition to have Oz removed from the game show’s hosting lineup. One possible explanation for Cooper’s low score could be the media attention given to the Derek Chauvin trial, which came during the same time frame as his hosting stint.

It comes as no surprise the former contestant Ken Jennings is the top performer among Jeopardy! guest hosts. His first week yielded an impressive 6.2 Nielsen rating. Jennings is a fan favorite among the Jeopardy! faithful and expects to receive consideration for the full-time gig in the future. Executive director Mike Richards sits in second place behind Jennings with a 5.9 Nielsen score. NFL star Aaron Rodgers, another Jeopardy! fan favorite joins Jennings and Richards in the top three with a 5.6 score in his first week. Katie Couric finishes in the fourth spot with a respectable 5.5 score.

Bill Whitaker, a correspondent for “60 minutes,” is currently filling the Jeopardy! hosting role. Former contestant Buzzy Cohen in the on-deck circle and will host the upcoming Tournament of Champions.