Scripps’ Bee reach biggest since 2015

The finals of the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, drew its largest television audience since 2015.

Viewership of the finals live on June 2 was +147% higher than in 2021.

“We are gratified to see the sizable increase in viewership we expected by bringing the Bee to free TV — the media platform accessible to nearly every American across the country,” said Adam Symson, Scripps president and CEO. “The Bee is now even better positioned to connect with the next generation of spellers.”

Adam Symson

Launched in 1925, the Bee’s purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives. The Bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Co.

Harini Logan, 14, from San Antonio, Texas, won this year’s Bee in the event’s first-ever spell-off.

Overall, Spelling Bee programming across the Scripps networks was seen by 7.5 million viewers. That includes the finals, semifinals and the “Road to the Bee” one-hour original special.

Scripps decided last fall to move the Bee to its own networks in an effort to make the competition more accessible than in recent years, with the semifinals and finals airing for the first time on Scripps national television networks ION, Bounce, Laff and TrueReal. Those networks can be found free and over-the-air as well as on cable and streaming platforms.

Other highlights:

  • The live finals broadcast on ION, Bounce, Laff and TrueReal combined to reach 3.7 million viewers, while the semifinals on June 1 reached 3.1 million viewers – the highest audience ever for the semis.
  • Streaming added significantly to the overall audience. Altogether, Bee programming was watched for nearly 5 million hours (4.5 million on linear TV and 320,0000 via streaming).

The Bee was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in a mostly virtual format in 2021. This year’s competition returned to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington, D.C.

Scripps is the longtime steward of the Bee and owns ION, Bounce, Laff and TrueReal. ION is the No. 5 most-watched entertainment network in primetime, and Bounce is the No. 2 most-watched network targeted to African Americans across broadcast and cable TV.

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