There is a lot of debate about what it means for a show to be syndicated. Are there two different versions of Jeopardy!—one syndicated and one not? Why is Jeopardy! syndicated and, most importantly, what even is syndication on TV? We will answer all of these questions and take a closer look at the history of Jeopardy!. Believe it or not, the show hasn’t always been as it is today! Jeopardy! has seen significant changes that have solidified its position as one of the most important game shows on national television today. In addition to that, Jeopardy! is a textbook example of a syndicated show. Let’s find out what “syndicated Jeopardy!” really means.
What Is Syndicated Jeopardy!?
Syndicated Jeopardy! refers to the episodes of Jeopardy! that began airing in 1984. In other words, it is Jeopardy! as we know it today. The show was sold into first-run syndication by its creator—Merv Griffin. Today you can watch syndicated Jeopardy! on stations run by ABC.
What Is Syndication in TV?
A syndicated show is a show that was created to be broadcasted on multiple TV channels. The show’s producers sell the rights to broadcast it to a different television station. You will usually find only one channel at a time broadcasting a show in a certain region. Selling the rights to more channels in the same region rarely makes sense, as networks use programs to show their uniqueness and improve customer loyalty. Besides, different channels have different audiences with their own preferences.
Syndication is a great source of revenue for television networks and production companies. With the rise of streaming platforms, this type of TV has spread to services like Netflix and Hulu. You will often find your favorite shows that you used to watch on TV on these streaming platforms.
There are different types of syndication in TV. The most popular type is called rerun syndication. Rerun syndication can occur once the show has stopped running. That allows other TV channels to purchase the show for their use and show reruns. Rerun syndication may push the show to new viewers, as well as attract fans of the show to new channels.
First-run syndication works on a broader scale. In this case, the show is produced to be sold into syndication. One production company or television network can take on the task of producing the show, and then sell it to another network, allowing it to run the show for the first time. A show from a different country can be sold into syndication as well. For instance, a show that’s popular in Canada can reach a new audience when it’s sold into syndication in the US. Just like that, syndication can be nation-wide.
Why Is Jeopardy! Syndicated?
Jeopardy! first premiered on NBC in 1964. That version of Jeopardy! was very far from the version we know and love today. The show did very well initially, racking up a big audience of young people and men. In the 70s, the ratings started falling due to some changes in broadcasting. Merv Griffin, the show’s creator, did not want to leave Jeopardy! to die. To revive the show, he bought the rights to make all-new episodes of Jeopardy! and sell them into first-run syndication. The 39 episodes produced then went into rerun syndication too. Ultimately, all that action didn’t make much of a difference in the mid-70s.
Jeopardy! took a break between 1975 and 1978, when the show was revived again. The show only ran for a year and could not meet the same success it did when it first started airing. Merv Griffin did not give up, though. Inspired by the successful syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune aired in 1983, Griffin decided to try his luck again. The new syndicated Jeopardy! was sold to King World Productions, later acquired by CBS Media Ventures. The network invested in new equipment and put a fun spin on how the questions are answered, turning the old version of the show into the version we know today. At the same time, they cut back by only paying out the winner, while the first and second runners-up only got a couple of hundred dollars for participating.
All those changes took Jeopardy! to where it is now. Since the show’s revival in 1984, it has become a staple program for the channels owned by ABC. Those include WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago, WPVI in Philadelphia, KGO in San Francisco, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN in Fresno.
Syndication is still responsible for a big part of Jeopardy!’s viewership and revenue. At the moment, there is one classic package that CBS offers to other stations. They can air two episodes of Jeopardy! every weekday, including a first run episode and any episode from the previous year. The local TV stations that have acquired the rights to broadcast Jeopardy! may also show five of the latest episodes. Finally, most old episodes with Alex Trebek as the host belongs to Pluto TV, which owns Paramount, just like CBS Media Ventures.
The answer to the question, “Why is Jeopardy! syndicated?” is simple: money. CBS can stand to make a lot more money with syndicated Jeopardy!. Initially, it was syndication that gave the show its success back in 1984. Syndicated episodes increase the show’s viewership and build loyalty among existing viewers. They also give the production company and network a chance to capitalize on reruns of episodes.
What Networks Show Jeopardy!?
You can find Jeopardy! on networks operated and owned by ABC. WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WLS in Chicago, and WPVI in Philadelphia are the main stations. The others include KGO in San Francisco, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN in Fresno.
Are There Two Versions of Jeopardy!?
There is only one version of Jeopardy!—the syndicated version that debuted in 1984. Three other versions aired before the Jeopardy! we know today. The original show first aired in 1964 and stopped airing in 1975. Another version of the show was sold into first-run syndication from 1974 to 1975. The last unsuccessful version aired between 1978 and 1979. Our version of Jeopardy! came out in 1984.
Jeopardy! Syndication vs. Reruns
Even though Jeopardy! did not begin as a syndicated program, you can find it in first-run syndication, and catch reruns on TV and streaming platforms. Jeopardy! is a first-run syndication show. It is broadcasted on networks that belong to and are operated by ABC. Networks like KABC in Los Angeles and WLS in Chicago reserve a regular spot for Jeopardy!. That’s where you can watch brand new Jeopardy! episodes! Certain local TV channels also own the rights to always air the 5 latest Jeopardy! episodes (until their agreement runs out or is terminated).
Jeopardy! reruns, on the other hand, are broadcasts of Jeopardy! episodes that have already been aired in first-run syndication. You can catch Jeopardy! reruns on different TV stations, as well as on Pluto TV. Pluto TV has a whole library of old Jeopardy! episodes that you can watch anytime.
Now that you know the whole history of Jeopardy!, tune in on weeknights or catch some episodes streaming on Pluto TV to refresh your trivia skills, just like the pros do! And for more information on Jeopardy!’s airing schedule, check out these articles on why Jeopardy! is a rerun tonight, why Jeopardy! isn’t on tonight, and how Jeopardy! could get canceled (though hopefully, it won’t!).