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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 29 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.
However 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 as their distributor. This was done mainly to keep the show in production in light of the show's deteriorating ratings on NBC daytime that would eventually led to cancellation. 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. It was most popular among stations in the northeastern U.S., the region where the daytime version had drawn its greatest audience share over its decade-long run. Elsewhere, it failed to catch on against competition like the twice-weekly Hollywood Squares and nightly games like To Tell the Truth, thus dooming it to failure after one season.
Unique to this version was a bonus round played 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. 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 the customary business suit and necktie.
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, 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 (as had been, coincidentally enough, the case in 1975 with AW's first expansion to an hour).
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 a syndicated version of Wheel which had premiered in 1983, Griffin sold a new syndicated version of Jeopardy!, hosted by the Canadian-born 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.
Initially relegated to unpopular morning, afternoon, or late night slots by managers of some television stations, the new program built upon early ratings success in the Cleveland and Detroit markets, where it had been slotted in the same 7:00–8:00 pm period 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 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 of these was New York City, where WNBC picked up Jeopardy! and aired it in the late night time slot following Late Night with David Letterman (1:30 AM ET). Although the series was gaining popularity, WNBC's Prime Time Access slots were filled with NBC Nightly News and the syndicated Family Feud, which was airing on all the network's owned-and-operated stations, and WNBC could not move the show to the morning because Donahue was airing in one of the only two other available time slots. WNBC therefore was unable to find a better time slot for the series, and before the end of the first season, King World pulled Jeopardy! from WNBC and sold the program to WABC-TV, its current affiliate in New York.
Upon acquiring Jeopardy!, WABC moved the program to lead off its late afternoon lineup at 4:00 PM, where it became a success. However, programs that followed Jeopardy! at that time were not successful: in the span of the quiz show's first two years on the station, WABC aired Name That Tune, the syndicated Sale of the Century, and Divorce Court alongside it; the former two were cancelled and the third was moved to another station. Unsatisfied with the overall ratings leading into its 5:00 PM Eyewitness News broadcast, WABC elected to split up its afternoon block of Jeopardy! and a syndicated edition of Card Sharks in December 1986 and move The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was airing in the 10:00 AM slot following the locally produced The Morning Show and doing well, to the afternoon. Jeopardy! moved to Oprah's slot and was paired with a revival of the 1970s game show Split Second. Although Jeopardy! was still pulling in decent ratings, again WABC was dissatisfied with the performance of its follow-up program (Split Second was cancelled following the 1986-87 season). In the fall of 1987, WABC picked up the rights to Sally Jessy Raphael's eponymous talk show and planned on airing it in the slot that Jeopardy! was occupying. However, since Jeopardy! was quickly becoming a nationwide hit by this point, the station was tasked with finding a slot for the program that did not involve moving it back to an early morning airing (as WABC did with Name That Tune and Card Sharks, although the low ratings for both shows resulted in the decisions made). The decision made by the station would have a far-reaching effect on scheduling in not only the New York metropolitan area, but some other markets as well.
At the time, as competitors WNBC and WCBS also did and as the station itself had done for years, WABC aired an hour-long newscast at 6:00 pm, followed by the ABC network's national newscast, then known as World News Tonight, at 7:00 pm. In order to find a proper slot for Jeopardy!, WABC cut its 6:00 pm Eyewitness News broadcast in half, moved World News from 7:00 pm to 6:30 pm, and placed Jeopardy! in the slot following World News. The move produced a ratings win for both World News and Jeopardy!, and the CBS and NBC affiliates eventually capitulated, rescheduling their respective evening news broadcasts to the 6:30 slot as well. WABC has aired Jeopardy! at 7:00 pm ever since, pairing it with Hollywood Squares at first. Jeopardy! now shares the 7:00-8:00 pm slot with Wheel, which had aired on WCBS from 1983 until 1990, when WABC acquired that show to replace Entertainment Tonight (which, after a brief period on WWOR, now occupies the same timeslot on WCBS that Wheel once did). WABC's success led many other Eastern Time Zone markets to air their network newscasts at 6:30 pm instead of 7:00 pm, and both Jeopardy! and Wheel have since become staples on most of ABC's owned-and-operated stations, including KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WLS-TV in Chicago, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KGO-TV in San Francisco, WTVD-TV in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, and KFSN-TV in Fresno; KTRK-TV in Houston is the only ABC O&O not to air either show as both air on Belo-owned CBS affiliate KHOU.
Since its debut, the syndicated version of Jeopardy! has gone on to win twelve Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, achieving this honor most recently in 2011, 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 2004–2005 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 (2011–2012), but by April 8, 2010 Jeopardy! was given an additional two year renewal through Season 30 (2013–2014). Then in 2012, Trebek and Wheel personalities Pat Sajak and Vanna White renewed their respective contracts when the shows' ABC-owned affiliates renewed them through the 2015–2016 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 1998–1999 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. 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. The phrasing rule was the most strict of any version; 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 August 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.
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!||Network Ten||Bob Sanders (1970–1971)|
Mal Walden (1971–1973)
Graham Webb (1973–1976)
Andrew Harwood (1976–1978)
|Tony Barber||11 January 1993–17 August 1993 (canceled after six months)|
|Belgium (Dutch)||Waagstuk!||VTM||Luc Appermont||1990–1997|
| Brazil||Arrisca Tudo||Globo|
|Canada (French)||Jeopardy!||TVA network||Réal Giguère||1991–1993|
|Croatia||Izazov!||HRT 1||Dražen Sirišćević, Joško Lokas||1998|
|Estonia||Kuldvillak!||TV3 Kanal 2||Teet Margna|
|Finland||Jeopardy!||Nelonen||Ismo Apell||Spring 2007|
|Hungary||Mindent vagy Semmit!||MTV 1993–1997||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 (1970–1972)|
Rai Uno (1972–1974)
Quiz Grand Prix
|Fuji Television||Hiroshi Koizumi||1970–1980|
|Mexico||Jeopardy!||TV Azteca||Omar Fierro||1998–2000|
|New Zealand||Jeopardy!||TVNZ||Mark Leishman||1992-1993|
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 (1994–1996)|
Kanal 7 (1998–2000)
|Büyük Risk ||Star TV||Selçuk Yöntem||2012-present|
|United Kingdom||Jeopardy!||Channel 4||Derek Hobson||1983–1984|
|ITV||Chris Donat (1990)|
Steve Jones (1991–1993)
|Sky One||Paul Ross||1995–1996|
Even though it has spawned many foreign adaptations as listed above, the American syndicated version of Jeopardy! is itself broadcast across the world, with international distribution rights being 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.