With taping hundreds of episodes a year, a team of producers and assistants doing months and months of research, writing, and contestant-recruiting, and—for some players—years of preparation, you might be surprised by how quickly Jeopardy! records a season’s worth of shows… kinda? Keep reading to find out more about Jeopardy!’s unique production schedule.
Please note: As of this writing in May 2021, the show’s need to recruit, and rehearse the many recent guest hosts considering the sad passing of Alex Trebek, and the resultant truncated production schedule, means that some of the below is slightly out of date, though given what Aaron Rodgers had to say about balancing an NFL career AND a Jeopardy! gig, perhaps he has the inside scoop that things are going back to normal(-ish) when a permanent replacement host comes on board.
How Far in Advance is Jeopardy! Taped?
About two months. Or more. Or perhaps a little less.
For regular season games, back in the Alex Trebek days, “about two months” was pretty usual, but definitely not a hard and fast rule; for example, when I was on the show, I recorded in mid-February and my show did not air until mid-April, a gap of almost exactly three months.
The reason for that delay is simple: A big deal special event that interrupted regular programming, the three-week All-Star tournament started airing in February, pushed the regular season into a further-from-tape-days situation. And Jeopardy! loves tournaments and special events, so there will be groups of contestants, a week’s worth at a time (more on that in a bit), who have to wait a little longer to accommodate a Big Event.
The “about two months” seems to be the case with at least some of the guest hosts as well; Mayim Bialik’s episodes, as of this writing, are scheduled to air starting May 31, and she taped her episodes in mid-March.
Tournaments, though, rarely have as long a gap between recording and airing; for example, the aforementioned All-Star tournament was taped in January. The 2021 Tournament of Champions was taped in mid-April for broadcast in mid-May.
How Many Days a Week Did Alex Trebek Work?
Alex Trebek worked slightly more than two days a week during the production season, by which I mean he attended meetings and events that weren’t show-recording specific. But the show taped two days a week (usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays) for a long time. And not every week!
How Many Episodes of Jeopardy! are Taped in a Day?
How do you get a full season of shows, plus special events, taped in only 46 days? Make those days count! Each recording day is a week!
Not a week long, obviously, but each tape day has an output of five shows (for airing Monday to Friday, sometime in the future). Three games are recorded (with VERY short breaks in between) in the morning, then there’s a wee lunch break (and audience turnover), and then they tape two more shows.
Five shows a day x 46 days = 230 shows a year.
What is the Taping Season for Jeopardy!?
In the post-Trebek world, this is maybe less set in stone (though will probably stabilize if/when a permanent host comes on board) — as of now (May), they are still taping new episodes to air as late as August normally, the ‘season’ ends in June or July, and recordings end in April or early May).
What Happens When the Show is Going to Air Way Later on a Holiday?
Not a whole lot! The shows air on weekday holidays (in most markets), but there is no big foofaraw to celebrate, normally (no Easter bunny ears hats on the contestants in February, for example), but they do like to include categories that might reference the holiday in question.
As someone who has been in the studio, let me tell you that a tape day looks EXHAUSTING, even from a seat in the audience, and it truly is exhausting for players. (Who probably, if it’s their first day, haven’t slept a wink and had a 7am shuttle pickup to the studio — or was that just me?)
But, y’know, I think the production team is pretty used to those flurry days by now; I mean, they’re the pros, and the show’s been doing its near-magical work for 37 seasons.
Want to know more about Jeopardy!? We’ve got you covered; click on the tag below to find pieces about beating champions, what the show’s producers tell you (and don’t), learn about the Coryat score, and other Jeopardy! miscellany! (And quiz yourself while you’re here and get some practice in before you take the online Jeopardy! test.)