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Source: Getty

Here's Why 'Jeopardy!' Still Has New Episodes a Month Into the Pandemic

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On March 16, Sony announced it was halting production on its two big game shows, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet throughout this period of quarantine and social distancing, viewers have had five new episodes a week of the best quiz show in history to enjoy. So just how far ahead is Jeopardy! filmed?

How far ahead 'Jeopardy' is filmed depends on the time of year but it's often three months in advance.

It's pretty impressive that Jeopardy has so many games taped and waiting to air, considering the show only films twice a week. However, each tape day records five episodes, meaning every week of production gets two weeks of programming in the can. Typically, the show films about three months in advance, though there may be a slightly shorter time between filming and airing near the start of the production year.

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Source: Getty

Usually by spring, though, there will be at least three months' lead time before airtime, based on personal experience. (As a former Jeopardy! contestant I am contractually obligated to mention I was on the show whenever the subject comes up.) Though my episode aired in late June 2016, it was recorded in the last week of March.

Tournaments tape on a slightly different schedule.

The annual College Championship, for example, usually tapes early in the winter term of school. This year's tournament, airing in April, was recorded in February. Nevertheless, it was filmed several weeks ago, before most colleges and universities closed for the remainder of the school year.

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Source: Jeopardy.com

When will 'Jeopardy!' run out of new episodes?

It's not clear yet whether they will, since the producers don't know when it is safe to resume production, but it's safe to assume they have new episodes until the end of May or later. You'll know they're nearing the end of the new episodes available when you start seeing episodes without an audience. For at least one week before they shut down completely, both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune recorded without audiences in an effort to keep things going while practicing social distancing.

Ultimately, the studio realized that was not enough, and as California governor Gavin Newsom made moves to issue shelter-in-place orders, it became clear even an audience-free version of the show would not be possible. It was a good move, especially given the health and advanced age of both hosts. 

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Source: Getty

Alex Trebek, 79, has been living with stage-4 pancreatic cancer since March 2019, and Pat Sajak, 73, underwent emergency abdominal surgery in November 2019, leading to the first-ever episodes hosted by Vanna White in Pat's shoes.

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