Scripps National Spelling Bee 2022: TV Info, Live Stream, Start Time, Preview

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2022

NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND - MAY 31:  Co-champions Sohum Sukhatankar (L) of Dallas, Texas, Abhijay Kodali (2nd L) of Flower Mound, Texas, Saketh Sundar (3rd L) of Clarksville, Maryland, and Rishik Gandhasri (R) of San Jose, California, celebrate as confetti drops after 20 rounds of competition and won the championship of the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center May 31, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland. The winning spellers made history with eight co-champions, the most number in the spelling event history.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

It's one of the busiest stretches of the calendar for live sports, with the NHL and NBA playoffs running simultaneously, MLB entering its summer stretch, the WNBA having just opened play and plenty of others to catch, including soccer, NASCAR and golf.

In honor of that competitive spirit, while it doesn't involve a stick or ball, the Scripps National Spelling Bee returns to television screens this week and can be just as compelling when the action heats up.

The competition involves 234 spellers from around the world, going head-to-head for the chance to take home the Scripps Cup. The contestants range in age from seven to 15.

All 50 U.S. states are represented, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe. Four countries outside the U.S. are also included: the Bahamas, Canada, Germany and Ghana.

The competition begins Wednesday with the quarterfinals in the morning and the semifinals in the evening, followed by the finals on Thursday beginning at 8 p.m.

Let's take a closer look at how you can tune in to this year's spelling bee, as well as new elements to look for and a general preview when you do.

Spelling Bee 2022 TV Schedule

Quarterfinals: June 1, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET

Semifinals: June 1, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET

Finals: June 2, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET


Live Stream: SpellingBee.com

Spelling Bee Preview

This year's competition, hosted by LeVar Burton, follows a new push first made in 2021 to increase spellers' understanding of words and overall literacy, not just rote memorization of words.

Last year, word-meaning rounds were introduced, which will "require the speller to orally select the correct multiple choice answer to a vocabulary question read by the pronouncer," according to the Bee's website.

In 2022, those rounds will be held in the second round of each segment (quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, as well as the preliminaries on Tuesday).

Typically, the Bee will conclude when a final speller in a one-person round spells a word correctly, but organizers have the option to declare a spell-off, in which each remaining speller would spell as many words as they could from a pre-set list in 90 seconds. Whoever spelled the most words correctly would be declared the winner.

In 2021, Zaila Avant-garde became the first Black American, as well as the first speller from Louisiana, to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Organizers have hoped to draw a bigger audience and have made changes to the Bee's format as a result.

To model the Bee after reality shows like America's Got Talent, the broadcast, which Scripps took back over after having previously sold the rights to Disney and ESPN, will feature backstage moments with contestants and vignettes showing how spellers rose through the ranks from local competitions to the National Spelling Bee.

The Bee dates back to 1925, beginning as a consolidated group of local contests by the Louisville Courier-Journal. The property has been owned by Scripps since 1941.

The only times the Bee has been canceled has been for World War II (1943-45) and for the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020).

The champion will receive a $50,000 cash prize, a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup championship trophy from the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

In addition, Merriam-Webster will give the winner a $2,500 cash prize and reference library, and Encyclopedia Britannica awards the Scripps Cup recipient $400 of reference works.

The second-place finisher receives $25,000 and third place earns $15,000.