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Jeopardy! is an American television quiz show created by Merv Griffin, in which contestants are presented with trivia clues in the form of answers and must phrase their responses in the form of a question. The show has experienced a long life in several incarnations over the course of nearly a half-century, spending more than 11 years as a daytime network program and having currently run in syndication for 30 seasons. It has also gained a worldwide following with a multitude of international adaptations.
The original Jeopardy! series, hosted by Art Fleming, premiered at 11:30 am Eastern (10:30 Central) on March 30, 1964, originating from the NBC headquarters in New York City's Rockefeller Center. NBC moved the program to 12:00 noon Eastern (11:00 am Central) after 18 months, making it accessible to businessmen coming home for their lunch break or else watching it on restaurant or bar sets, and college students departing their classes for the day. These two constituencies, who ordinarily did not have the time or interest to view other daytime programs, made the show a runaway hit, propelling its ratings to second place among all daytime game shows by the end of the decade—second only to its immediate lead-in, The Hollywood Squares. The show had practically no trouble whatsoever against soap operas such as Love of Life on CBS and mostly sitcom reruns on ABC.
In 1973, Lin Bolen, then Vice President of Daytime Programming at NBC, began eliminating longer-running game shows from the network in an aggressive attempt to bolster ratings among women aged 18–34. Refreshing the daytime lineup became especially imperative to Bolen when CBS launched a surprise success in the soap opera The Young and the Restless at Noon/11, drawing away younger audiences in particular. Although Jeopardy! continued to produce high ratings in the 12:00 noon time slot (also against the ABC revival of Password), Bolen moved the game to 10:30 am Eastern (9:30 Central) on January 7, 1974, putting it up against CBS' The $10,000 Pyramid, and placed Jackpot!, a stylish, youth-oriented riddle contest hosted by Geoff Edwards, in Jeopardy!'s former time slot. Bolen and other NBC executives were surprised, though, when Jeopardy actually beat Pyramid for several weeks in February and March, prompting CBS to cancel Pyramid for failing to draw, according to producer Bob Stewart (who also produced Jackpot!), a 30 share that CBS daytime executives required a show to have in order to stay on its daytime schedule (Pyramid would return several weeks later on ABC in an afternoon slot and would go on to become one of the most popular games of the 1970s and 1980s.) CBS relocated Gambit to 10:30 am on April 1, which ran about even with Jeopardy! in the ratings, with Gambit having perhaps a slight lead, due to its more traditional housewife target audience.
However, Bolen was not interested in seeing an aging show like Jeopardy! stand in the way of her plans for a more youthful image for NBC's daytime lineup. So, on July 1 of the same year, NBC moved Jeopardy!'s time slot again, this time to 1:30 pm Eastern (12:30 Central) (replacing Three on a Match, yet another Bob Stewart-produced game) and placed it against ABC's Let's Make a Deal and CBS' As the World Turns, both of which had easily beaten the ratings of several programs placed in that same time slot by NBC since December 1968. At that time, Deal moved to ABC from NBC, which had carried it in that very time slot during much of the 1960s, in a dispute by packagers Stefan Hatos and Monty Hall over the latter network's refusal to make a weekly prime-time version of the show permanent.
With the July move, many of the previously devoted viewers began abandoning the program. Jeopardy! became the seventh show since 1968 to fail at 1:30/12:30, and a cancellation notice was issued by November 1974. Its replacement was the expansion of Another World to a full hour, the first daytime serial to expand to that duration; in April 1975, another serial, Days of Our Lives would begin occupying that time slot and eventually brought success to NBC there. Jeopardy! broadcast the 2,753rd and final episode of its original network run on January 3, 1975. Some affiliates, including KNBC in Los Angeles, aired reruns in various other time slots through the first quarter of that year. To compensate Griffin for canceling the program, which still had a year left on its contract, NBC purchased Wheel of Fortune, another creation of his, which premiered on January 6, 1975 at 10:30 am Eastern (9:30 Central).
Griffin secured the rights from NBC to produce new episodes for first-run syndication, with Metromedia (who also syndicated Griffin's popular talk show) as their distributor. Griffin took this action mainly to keep the show in production in light of the show's deteriorating ratings on NBC daytime that would eventually led to cancellation; NBC had repeatedly refused Griffin's requests to do so in the past. These episodes began airing weekly in September 1974 and featured many contestants who were previous champions on the NBC version. Thirty-nine episodes were produced, with reruns of this version also airing in syndication through about summer 1975. Most stations aired this during the Prime Time Access slots in the early evening before network prime-time programming began, usually in a "checkerboard" pattern with other weekly shows, meaning a different syndicated show aired each night, like the networks in prime time. By 1974, though, the market was flooded with evening versions of network games like the Hollywood Squares and The Price is Right, and Jeopardy!, already on a popularity downswing for some time, did not get anywhere near nationwide clearance, thus dooming it to failure after one season.
Unique to this version was a bonus awarded at the end of the program, after Final Jeopardy! was completed. The episode's champion selected a prize hidden behind the thirty squares on the Jeopardy! board. Among the prizes was a $25,000 cash award which was hidden behind two squares. In order to win the top prize, the champion had to find both $25,000 cards in succession (winning, of course, the prize on the second pick, if it was not the latter half of the grand prize). In later episodes, the bonus board was dropped and the evening's champion received a prize based upon his or her final score, with a Chevrolet Vega or Chevrolet Caprice (or even additional cash prizes of $10,000 or $25,000) as possibilities.
The set also featured a string of flashing lights around the show logo behind the contestant area, and Fleming wore a tuxedo with a check-patterned jacket, instead of his usual business suit and necktie. When production ended, the program's history in New York City came to an end as well.
After two pilot episodes were shot (the first one for CBS in 1977), NBC debuted a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, on October 2, 1978, placing it on its schedule at 10:30 am Eastern (9:30 Central), where it replaced For Richer, For Poorer. From its debut until January 5, 1979, Jeopardy! was placed against the first half-hour of CBS' powerhouse The Price Is Right, which had been a solid hit for years by that point. NBC moved the program to noon on January 8, causing it to face off against The $20,000 Pyramid on ABC and The Young and the Restless on CBS. Jeopardy!'s audience dwindled and the program ended on March 2 in favor of the soap opera Another World, which expanded from 60 to 90 minutes.
Originating from the NBC Studios in Burbank, California, this version featured some unique gameplay elements of its own. In the most notable of these elements, the lowest scoring player would be eliminated from further play after the Jeopardy! round. The remaining two players played the Double Jeopardy! round until either its completion or time was called (usually the latter), and the player with the most money was declared the winner. 
Instead of playing the original format's final round, known as Final Jeopardy!, the day's champion played a bonus game called "Super Jeopardy!" to try to win an additional cash prize. The round consisted of five categories (instead of six in the main game), each with five clues of no determined value. The object of the round was to answer five questions to create a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line on the board. Players had to create the line before accumulating three strikes, which were given if a player either failed to respond (passing was not allowed without penalty) or gave an incorrect answer. If the contestant struck out $100 was awarded for each correct answer given, but if the contestant was successful he/she would win $5,000. For each successive time a champion played the Super Jeopardy! round, regardless of whether or not the player had won the round the day before, he/she would play for $2,500 more than he/she had the previous time— thus, a second trip would be played for $7,500, a third $10,000, a fourth $12,500, and a fifth and final trip $15,000. A player could earn $50,000 from Super Jeopardy! alone, provided that said player won each Super Jeopardy! round over a five-day reign as champion.
Following the success of the nighttime syndicated version of Wheel which had premiered in 1983, Griffin sold a new syndicated version of Jeopardy!, hosted by Canadian-born TV personality Alex Trebek, to its same distributor, King World Productions (which would much later be folded into CBS Television Distribution). The Trebek version officially premiered on September 10, 1984, and introduced updated technology to the program, replacing the former manually operated game board featuring clues printed on pull cards with television monitors to display clues. The main difference from the 1964-75 versions was that only the winning contestant kept his or her earnings, while the runners-up were awarded higher-end consolation prizes instead (changed in later years to $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third).
Initially, Jeopardy! was relegated by managers of some television stations to unpopular morning, afternoon, or late night slots, and it was not unusual for both Jeopardy! and Wheel to air either non-consecutively, on different stations, or even against one another. However, the new version built upon early ratings success in Cleveland and Detroit, where it had been slotted in the same 7:00–8:00 pm period (the Prime Time Access Hour) in which Wheel also appeared, and soon developed a strong following among viewers. Coinciding with the peak of popularity for Trivial Pursuit and the installation of electronic trivia games (e.g. NTN Buzztime) in pubs and bars,  Jeopardy! was slowly beginning to become a major success despite some markets still airing the program in unfavorable time slots. One such market was New York City, where NBC's East Coast flagship, WNBC picked up Jeopardy! and placed it at 1:30 AM following Late Night with David Letterman.
Although the series was indeed proving to be a hit, its late time slot in the country's largest media market began to concern its distributor. Even though Letterman's show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the two programs preceding Jeopardy!, were strong ratings winners and helped the show find an audience, a late night time slot is not usually considered beneficial for a first run series.[by whom?] At WNBC, every possible daytime or early evening slot that might have been available for Jeopardy! was spoken for by either network or other first-run syndicated programming. At mid-season, seeing no opportunity for an earlier airing at WNBC, King World pulled Jeopardy! from the station.
Jeopardy! moved to WABC at 4:00 pm, on December 31, 1984, following ABC's cancellation of The Edge of Night and the return of the time slot to the affiliates. It was followed by Name That Tune, which the station had been airing in the morning. Jeopardy! was intended to serve as the anchor, to help the struggling Name That Tune gain a bigger audience, and to improve the station's overall ratings in the hour leading to Eyewitness News at 5:00 pm. It did not work as WABC had planned, however. Over the next year and a half, WABC aired Name That Tune, Divorce Court and the syndicated Sale of The Century at 4:30, none of which succeeded in the ratings. This left Jeopardy! as the only show drawing ratings for WABC in late afternoon. WABC, however, was growing impatient and a change was in the works that would affect the station's schedule for the next three decades.
As the 1986-87 season began, Jeopardy! continued to air at 4:00 PM with WABC picking up a syndicated edition of the CBS daytime game show Card Sharks to air at 4:30 PM. That season also saw The Oprah Winfrey Show debut in national syndication after two years as a local talk show based out of WLS-TV in Chicago, and WABC began airing it at 10:00 AM following their own locally-produced variety talk program, The Morning Show. Oprah became an overnight success and quickly surpassed Donahue as the most popular daytime talk show in the United States. Meanwhile, the struggles at 4:30 PM continued as Card Sharks joined its predecessors as series unable to piggyback off of the ratings of the popular Jeopardy! ahead of it.
Before 1986 ended, WABC planned to move Oprah to the 4:00 PM slot Jeopardy! and Card Sharks occupied, where it would remain until the show ended its run in 2011. This move would result in both game shows being forced to air at another time. While WABC simply jettisoned the low rated Card Sharks to late night following Nightline, Jeopardy!'s continually increasing popularity required the station to find a more viable timeslot to air the show in. At the time, WABC did not have anyplace to move the show except to the 10:00 AM slot Oprah had just vacated. However, WABC decided to go even further and made a decision that would shake up many stations' early evening schedules in the years to come.
At the time, as the station itself (and competitors WNBC and WCBS) had done for years, WABC aired an hour-long edition of Eyewitness News at 6:00 PM, with the national World News Tonight broadcast following at 7:00 PM. WABC's remaining Prime Time Access slot, at 7:30 PM, was filled by a John Davidson-hosted revival of Hollywood Squares, which premiered that fall (along with Oprah and Card Sharks), and was doing fairly well in competition against the popular nighttime syndicated edition of Wheel of Fortune on WCBS. WABC, seeing the performance of Squares, thought they could draw the same or better ratings with Jeopardy! as a lead-in to Hollywood Squares. There was also no rule that required WABC to air World News Tonight at 7:00 PM, and thus the decision had been made.
On December 15, 1986, the same day that Oprah moved to 4:00 PM, WABC reduced the 6:00 PM broadcast of Eyewitness News by 30 minutes and moved World News Tonight to 6:30 PM, with Jeopardy! airing at 7:00 PM and Squares following it at 7:30 PM. To alert viewers to the timeslot changes, WABC launched an advertising campaign entitled "Prime Time Begins At 7 On 7". In addition, WABC would fill Oprah's vacated 10:00 AM slot after The Morning Show (which itself entered national syndication in 1988 as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee) with a second run of the previous evening's broadcast of Jeopardy!, followed by a revival of the 1970s game show, Split Second at 10:30 AM; the latter program would be canceled by the end of 1986-87 season. WABC would permanently fill the 10:00 AM timeslot in September 1987 by gaining the New York rights to Sally Jessy Raphael's eponymous talk show, and the transformation of WABC's daytime lineup was complete.
The move produced a ratings win in both the 6:30 and 7:00 PM timeslots, as World News Tonight also benefited from the timeslot switch. Eventually WCBS and WNBC capitulated, as their networks' respective national newscasts eventually moved to 6:30 PM as well. After moving the CBS Evening News to 6:30 PM by the fall of 1988, WCBS picked up the game show Win, Lose or Draw to air at 7:00 PM as a lead in for Wheel, while WNBC (which also moved NBC Nightly News to 6:30 PM as well) eventually began airing newsmagazines in the hour preceding prime time such as Inside Edition.
As for WABC, which has continued to air Jeopardy! at 7:00 PM ever since, initially the same lead-out issues continued to plague the station, as Hollywood Squares saw its ratings decline, would eventually be dropped from the timeslot later in the 1987-88 season (in favor of a return of Entertainment Tonight to WABC), and moved to WPIX where it remained until the end of its run in 1989. In 1990, WABC would acquire Wheel to air following Jeopardy! at 7:30 PM, where it has remained ever since, as WCBS was looking to air different programming (such as the newsmagazine Hard Copy, which it picked up in 1989) in its access hour. ET would eventually move to WCBS, and now airs in Wheel's old 7:30 PM slot. WABC's successful access hour move eventually resulted in many Eastern and Pacific Time Zone network affiliates across the United States moving their network newscasts to 6:30 PM. In the Central and Mountain Time Zones though, while affiliates in these time zones generally program Wheel at 6:30 PM, Jeopardy! largely continues to air during late afternoon (and in some cases, morning) timeslots, as many of their affiliates in these time zones continue to air local newscasts in the access hour following their networks' respective national newscasts.
Jeopardy! and Wheel have since become staples on seven of ABC's eight owned-and-operated stations (WABC, KABC/Los Angeles, WLS, WPVI/Philadelphia, KGO/San Francisco, WTVD/Raleigh-Durham and KFSN/Fresno). The only exception is KTRK in Houston, which has never carried both game shows (in part due to an hour-long newscast in the Prime Time Access hour where Wheel would normally broadcast); both game shows have aired since the 1980s on Gannett-owned CBS affiliate KHOU.
Since its debut, the syndicated version of Jeopardy! has gone on to win fourteen Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, achieving this honor most recently in 2014, and today it holds the record as the most honored program in this Emmy award category.
The show was the subject of great interest and increased ratings (often out-performing Wheel and even prime-time programs) in the early portions of the 2004–05 season as contestant Ken Jennings, taking advantage of newly relaxed appearance rules, won 74 matches before being defeated by Nancy Zerg in his 75th appearance. He amassed $2,520,700 over the course of his winning streak as well as a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance, thus earning the record as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows, and his winning streak led the show to become TV's highest-rated syndicated program.
On September 11, 2006, with the start of Season 23, Jeopardy! began broadcasting in high definition. King World and production company Sony Pictures Television indicated that as of August 10, 2006, some 49 of the 210 stations that carried the show at that time were prepared for the transition. Sony uses the 1080i HD format to record the show, but since Jeopardy! is syndicated, stations using the 720p format had to manually transcode the show from an HD satellite feed before broadcasting it. This issue was remedied with the introduction of the Pathfire satellite system for high-definition syndicated content distribution.
On January 2, 2007 one third of subscribing stations originally renewed Jeopardy! through Season 28 (2011–12), but by April 8, 2010 Jeopardy! was given an additional two year renewal through Season 30 (2013–14). Then in 2012, Trebek and Wheel personalities Pat Sajak and Vanna White renewed their respective contracts when the shows' ABC-owned affiliates renewed both game shows through the 2015–16 season.
Jep!, a children's version whose title is a basic shortening of the parent program's, aired first on Game Show Network (now known by its abbreviated name, "GSN") throughout the 1998–99 season, and then on Discovery Kids through late 2004. It was hosted by cartoon voice actor Bob Bergen, and produced by Scott Sternberg who had earlier produced a children's version of Wheel, titled Wheel 2000. The show's production involved many of the daily syndicated Jeopardy!'s then-current personnel, including director Kevin McCarthy and four of the nine writers that the show employed at the time, and Trebek himself served as Jep!'s creative consultant. Unlike the main Jeopardy! series, Jep! was taped at Stage 11 of the Sony Pictures Studios, rather than Stage 10.
Contestants on Jep! were young children aged 10 through 12, and the game's difficulty level was substantially lower than that of the standard Jeopardy! game – making the show similar, in a way, to "Kids Weeks" on the parent program, which were introduced later. The players competed for merchandise packages instead of monetary prizes, and as in the parent program's Super Jeopardy! specials, the clue values were in points rather than in dollars. Of the game's three rounds, the first round (the Jeopardy! round) became known as "Jep!", the second round (Double Jeopardy!) became "Hyper Jep!", and the third round (Final Jeopardy!) became "Super Jep!" There were five categories containing four clues apiece, and point values were randomly chosen by hitting a button. Jep! also featured a penalty system, in which three lights on each of the contestants' lecterns were designated "In Jeopardy!" lights which would turn on alongside the traditional deduction of points if the contestant answered a question incorrectly or failed to phrase their response in the form of a question; once the last of these lights turned on, the contestant's chair would recede behind a wall bringing the contestant with it, locking them out of gameplay for one clue. Furthermore, in addition to the traditional "Daily Doubles", Jep! also featured a "Jep! Prize" clue which would award a prize to the contestant who responded correctly to it, and the so-called "Jep! Squad", a team of children from various places in America who functioned as correspondents delivering video clues, much like the parent program's later "Clue Crew". The spin-off's phrasing rule was the most strict of any version of Jeopardy!; responses had to be in the form of a question at all times or else they would not be accepted, even if the response itself was correct.
Rock & Roll Jeopardy!, a music-intensive version, debuted on VH1 on October 8, 1998 and ran for four seasons, ending on May 12, 2001. Hosted by Jeff Probst of Survivor fame, this version featured largely identical play to the parent program, but highlighted post-1950s popular music trivia rather than focusing on general knowledge. Probst was joined by Loretta Fox as announcer until the final two seasons, when she was replaced by Stew Herrera.
Instead of the actual amount won during the three rounds of game play, the champions on Rock & Roll Jeopardy! were awarded $5,000, regardless of their score, and non-winners received consolation prizes, which were $2,000 for the second-place contestant and $1,000 for the third-place contestant. For the first two seasons, the clue values were in points, but they were changed to dollars for the final two seasons with the guaranteed minimum for the winner being $5,000. Numerous rock musicians appeared in celebrity editions of the show, playing for charitable organizations of their choice.
As was the case with Jep!, Rock & Roll Jeopardy!'s production involved most of the daily syndicated Jeopardy!'s then-current personnel, and its copyright holder was identified in show credits as Trackdown Productions, Inc. Again, the show was taped at Stage 11 of the Sony Studios, rather than Stage 10. Years after the cancellation of R & R J!, the main Jeopardy! series began to use the spin-off's main theme (an electric-guitar remix of "Think!" written by Steve Kaplan) in its Kids Weeks, Teen Tournaments, and College Championships.
In fall 2014, Crackle, an online video portal owned by Sony, will begin exclusively carrying Sports Jeopardy!, a sports-themed version of the show. Sportscaster Dan Patrick will host the webseries.
The popularity of Jeopardy! in the United States has led the show's format to launch in many foreign countries throughout the world. This has led the American version to conduct "International Tournaments" in which champions from the show's foreign adaptations competed in a one-week tournament identical to the semifinals and finals of the American version's "Tournament of Champions".
Most versions are faithful to the American version's format, but some use unique formats of their own; for example, the Czech and Slovak adaptations eschew the show's trademark "answer and question" format in favor of a simple, standard quiz format, where clues are presented as questions or tasks and the contestants simply answer the questions or perform the tasks indicated, rather than providing responses phrased in the form of a question.
|MBC 1||Ibrahim Abou Jawdeh||2011|
|Argentina||Jeopardy!||Canal 13||Fernando Bravo||2006–?|
|Australia||Jeopardy!||Seven Network||Bob Sanders (1970–71)|
Mal Walden (1971–73)
Graham Webb (1973–76)
Andrew Harwood (1976–78)
|Network Ten||Tony Barber||1993|
|Belgium (Dutch)||Waagstuk!||VTM||Luc Appermont||1990–97|
|Canada (French)||Jeopardy!||TVA network||Réal Giguère||1991–93|
|Croatia||Izazov!||HRT 1||Dražen Sirišćević, Joško Lokas||1998|
|TV3||Adam Duvå Hall||2014–present|
|Finland||Jeopardy!||Nelonen||Ismo Apell||Spring 2007|
|Hungary||Mindent vagy Semmit!||MTV 1993–97||István Vágó|
|KOCKÁZAT!||TV 2||Gábor Csúzdi||1998–2000|
|Indonesia||Jeopardy!||Shine TV-2||Robby Purba||2013|
Melekh Ha Trivia
|Channel 3||Eli Israeli||1997–2000|
|Italy||Rischiatutto||Rai Due (1970–72)|
Rai Uno (1972–74)
Quiz Grand Prix
|Fuji Television||Hiroshi Koizumi||1970–80|
|Mexico||Jeopardy!||TV Azteca||Omar Fierro||1998–2000|
|New Zealand||Jeopardy!||TVNZ||Mark Leishman||1992–93|
Nils Gunnar Lie
|Poland||Va Banque||TVP2||Kazimierz Kaczor||1996–2003|
|Romania||Riști și câștigi!||PRO TV||Constantin Cotimanis|
|Spain||Jeopardy!||Antena 3||Carlos Sobera||2007|
|Turkey||Riziko!||TRT 1 (1994–96)|
Kanal 7 (1998–2000)
|Büyük Risk ||Star TV||Selçuk Yöntem||2012–present|
|United Kingdom||Jeopardy!||Channel 4||Derek Hobson||1983–84|
|Sky One||Paul Ross||1995–96|
Even though the program has spawned many foreign adaptations, the American syndicated version of Jeopardy! is itself broadcast across the world, with international distribution rights held by CBS Studios International (which, like the show's U.S. distributor CBS Television Distribution, is a unit of CBS Corporation). In Canada, the show is broadcast by all affiliates of CBC Television except for CBET-DT in Windsor, Ontario (due to broadcast rights in that region being held by WDIV-TV in Detroit). Like most American game shows that air in Canada, Canadians are eligible to appear as contestants on the American version. (However, just as Wheel of Fortune once had its own French-Canadian version, there was also a French-Canadian version of Jeopardy! that aired for a few seasons in Quebec, on TVA, from 1991 to 1993.) Before 2008, Jeopardy! aired across Canada mostly on CTV stations, although the Vancouver CTV station CIVT-TV has never aired the show (the show has, however, apparently aired before on local Global station CHAN-TV), and in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, the show has aired on NTV.