While Levar Burton’s “Jeopardy!” appearance was one of the most anticipated, the show’s ratings suggest otherwise. In spite of the lackluster numbers, there is a reasonable explanation for why Burton’s viewership suffered.
Newsweek obtained Nielsen Media Research figures, discovering Burton pulled an audience share of 4.4. This means his week of hosting is the least-watched of every guest host.
In short, Burton’s problem was simply bad timing. Notably, after Trebek passed away and guests began hosting the show, each week saw dropped viewership. For example, Mike Richards earned an audience share of 5.9, with Katie Couric after him seeing 5.6, and Dr. Mehmet Oz pulling 5.2.
Only once did ratings spike back up, with Aaron Rodgers, before continuing its downward trend.
However, what likely hurt Burton the most was the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Notably, the Olympics hurt every other show’s ratings as well.
Additionally, current events likely contributed to low “Jeopardy!” ratings. Burton’s second day aired simultaneously with the first hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot in January. Meanwhile, two days later, President Biden announced measures to boost COVID vaccinations, in addition to the NBA draft being shown.
LeVar Burton And The Future Of ‘Jeopardy!’
Though it was recently announced Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik will both host the game show in future seasons, Burton had hoped to become a permanent host.
Burton expressed this desire to Newsweek in April, saying “I think I could continue his legacy, I think I would do it proud. Yeah, I think I would bring myself and my skills and my life experience. I believe that I will be honoring Alex’s legacy by standing on the podium.”
Fans supported Burton in his endeavor, something he noticed and commented about.
“I’m not the only one. And I think that’s because it feels as right to them perhaps as it does to me. It just feels like a good fit—it feels like the right thing. When I think about it, when I contemplate it’s like yeah, ‘that makes sense.'”
The recent new host announcement left Burton’s fans upset, to say the least, but he seemed to respond in a gracious, humble manner. Though not outright directing a statement to the announcement, it’s obvious he is happy for Richards and Bialik.
“I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible! If love is the ultimate blessing and I believe that it is, I am truly blessed beyond measure.”
Though it’s disappointing LeVar Burton’s childhood dream didn’t come true and his guest-hosting numbers fell short, it speaks greatly about his character he has been so civil about everything that has happened.