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Move over Trebek: Dan Patrick to host Sports Jeopardy!

Sports-related programming is a ratings draw. Sony is taking a different tact to get involved with the world of sports.

(Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)
(Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

On his nationally syndicated radio show, sports personality Dan Patrick often jokes about taking over for Alex Trebek as the host of the popular trivia show, Jeopardy! Now, he’ll be doing the next best thing, as he will host Sports Jeopardy! this fall. The show will be broadcast on Crackle, a Sony-owned site that broadcasts movies, TV shows and original web series content.

Here’s a look at how this latest sports game show venture may fare:

Disadvantages

1) Lack of Previous Success

Sports trivia game shows, despite the appeal, have not found big success in the past. ESPN’s Stump the Schwab, where contestants tried to stump ESPN statistician and walking sports encyclopedia Howie Schwab, lasted two years (four seasons) from 2004 to 2006. ESPN brought Schwab back  for a competition against college contestants in May 2013, but laid off Schwab that June.

Other sports trivia shows were even less successful. Fox Sports’ Sports Geniuses lasted four months in 2000. ESPN’s 2 Minute Drill lasted three seasons despite having a popular host in SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne, while the network’s Sports on Tap show lasted less than a year. The increasing availability of television and internet today compared to even 10 years ago is an advantage for the show, but there are not a lot of success stories to take a blueprint from.

2) How To Watch

The show will not be broadcast on a traditional television channel, but instead will be shown on Crackle.

Crackle is available on television via streaming through physical add-ons such as Apple TV or Roku, as well as through gaming consoles like Playstation and XBox. Sony is putting more money into original content for Crackle, such as a new program this fall featuring Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston as well as a show titled Throwaways with actor Jeremy Renner. Still, it can not yet compete with network or cable television and will face the challenge of convincing traditional viewers to stream via over the top devices.

Advantages

1) Interactivity

Sony actually released a Sports Jeopardy! app in January, which cost 99 cents and works as a game for Apple and Android products. With the show now forthcoming, Sony said there will be a feature allowing users to play along with the show from their phones or tablets. And for those (myself included) who always watched Jeopardy! and wished they could compare their knowledge to the contestants, a new app will allow users to keep their personal score while watching the show.

2) Dan Patrick

Patrick was a longtime SportsCenter anchor before leaving ESPN and starting the Dan Patrick Show. The show is syndicated nationally, and his podcast is successful. Thus, Patrick comes  with a built-in advantage of millions of followers, many of which will tune in to the show based on their positive experiences with him as a radio host and Football Night in America anchor.

3) The Jeopardy! Brand

The new show is less of a Jeopardy! knock-off and more of a Jeopardy! add-on. Jeopardy! producer Harry Friedman will be producing the new show, and according to Patrick, the show will be filmed in the same Culver City, Calif. studio where Trebek hosts the regular show. Jeopardy! is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and shows no signs of slowing down, and Sports Jeopardy! is smart to limits the changes from the original format and piggyback off its success.

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