By Victoria McNally // SWNS
He might go twice as high as a butterfly in the sky, but actor LeVar Burton still has a lot of “Jeopardy!” fans to win over after his trial run as guest host.
That’s according to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll, which asked a nationally representative sample of 1,003 Americans to weigh in on how ABC’s long-running game show has evolved since the death of former host Alex Trebek last year.
Of those polled, 45% tuned in the initial broadcast of Burton’s debut episode on Monday, July 26, while another 28% saw clips after the airdate.
After that one episode, four out of five (79%) respondents described Burton’s performance as either “good” or “great,” with less than 2% calling it “bad” or “terrible.”
But despite the rave reviews, only one in 10 (10%) chose the “Reading Rainbow” star as their pick for permanent host.
That makes Burton the third most popular choice, behind “Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings (23%) and executive producer Mike Richards (14%).
But it also puts him ahead of recent guest hosts like CNN’s Anderson Cooper (5%), Dr. Mehmet Oz (4%), and CNBC’s David Ferber (1%), who’s scheduled to take over next week on Aug. 2.
The survey also found Burton to be especially popular among older respondents; 86% of the panelists who picked him were above the age of 45.
Men also responded more positively than women, not just to Burton’s hosting skills (69% vs. 47%) but to the show itself — they were twice as likely to claim that they watch every episode of “Jeopardy!” as it airs (32% vs. 15%).
Which doesn’t mean its appeal is split along gender lines; in fact, 86% of all respondents reported having a positive opinion of “Jeopardy!” in general, while less than 1% — only five of the 1,003 people polled — actively dislike the series.
And, of course, that’s not counting the more than 260,000 fans online who’ve signed an online petition within the last year, urging Sony Pictures Entertainment to hire Burton as Trebek’s permanent replacement.
Trebek, who first shared news of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019, died of the illness in November at age 80.
“Jeopardy!” first began trialing guest hosts on March 8 with Ken Jennings, and will continue through Aug. 13 with Fox sportscaster Joe Buck.
In a May episode of “The Journal,” a podcast series produced by the Wall Street Journal, executive producer Mike Richards said that viewers should expect to hear a final decision later this summer as Season 38 begins filming.
TOP TEN FAVORITE “JEOPARDY!” GUEST HOSTS (SO FAR)
- Ken Jennings (23%)
- Mike Richards (14%)
- LeVar Burton (10%)
- Mayim Bialik (8%)
- Aaron Rodgers (5%)
- Katie Couric (5%)
- Anderson Cooper (5%)
- Dr. Oz (4%)
- Robin Roberts (3%)
- George Stephanopoulos (2%)