News from early December 2022, including an update on "Pennyworth" on Showcase, and CBC's winter programming plans.
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are two long-running game shows created by Merv Griffin, and produced by Sony Pictures Television, which have been staples of early-evening television across North America since the early 1980s, with both shows also having had long runs on U.S. daytime television going back to 1975 and 1964 respectively. The current version of Jeopardy! was hosted for many years by Canadian-born host Alex Trebek, and has also long welcomed Canadian contestants, with Mattea Roach having become the highest-earning Canadian contestant to date in 2022, and participating in that year's edition of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.
In Canada, broadcast rights to both programs are currently held by IndieNet, a joint venture between several otherwise independent broadcast TV stations operating in various parts of the country, but unfortunately not covering the full country (unless you count out-of-market availability on cable and satellite, which is sometimes restricted to special timeshifting packages).
Through IndieNet, Wheel and Jeopardy! are currently aired by religious broadcaster Yes TV, which operates three stations and two rebroadcasters giving it over-the-air and cable coverage in southern Ontario (including Toronto and London), the Ottawa area, Calgary and Edmonton; CHEK-DT in Victoria, British Columbia (also serving the Greater Vancouver Area); and CJON-DT ("NTV") serving the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
YesTV and CHEK air the programs back-to-back weeknights (as well as past-season reruns on Saturdays), with Wheel of Fortune at 7:00 p.m. local time (either Eastern, Mountain, or Pacific depending on the station), and Jeopardy! at 7:30. NTV airs Wheel weekdays at 5:00 p.m. Newfoundland time before its local newscasts, and Jeopardy! at 8:00, leading into primetime programming that starts at 8:30 NT.
Broadcast details may vary for the occasional primetime versions of the series. The IndieNet stations have also carried the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament (2020), Jeopardy National College Championship, and the first season of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, but CTV managed to get the rights to Celebrity Wheel beginning in fall 2021, as well as the primetime Celebrity Jeopardy! series starting in fall 2022.
Where can I watch Wheel and Jeopardy! if I have cable but can't access one of these Canadian stations?
If you do not live in a market where one of these stations is easily accessible – or even if you do – both programs are also usually available on one of the major U.S. network affiliates distributed by most Canadian cable, satellite, and similar TV service providers.
In most, but not all, North American media markets, the current weekday versions of the two programs are sold as a package to local stations by CBS Media Ventures (formerly King World), a TV syndication company owned by the CBS network. However, the stations that air the programs are fairly evenly split between ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates (with a few Fox affiliates in the mix as well), though primetime specials generally air on ABC, which owns the stations that carry both shows in the largest markets like New York City.
Because the programs are syndicated, there's a bit more variation in scheduling between stations compared to primetime network programs. That said, the usual pattern with many of these stations is, again, for Wheel to air at 7:00 local time (based on the time zone where the station originates) followed by Jeopardy! at 7:30, but in some areas the order is reversed, or one or both programs air earlier in the day, particularly in the Central time zone.
American stations commonly available in various parts of Canada that currently carry the programs include the following (channel numbers are included for brand identification purposes only; the locations on Canadian cable lineups vary):
- WVII-TV (ABC 7) Bangor, Maine (may be available in some parts of New Brunswick)
- WBZ-TV (CBS 4) Boston, Massachusetts (available on most providers serving New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador)
- WPTZ (NBC 5) Plattsburgh, New York (available in the Montréal area) [Jeopardy! airs at 7:00 p.m. ET, followed by Wheel]
- WIVB-TV (CBS 4) Buffalo, New York (available in southern Ontario)
- WDIV-TV (NBC "Local 4") Detroit, Michigan (available on cable in various locations including Ottawa, southwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan, and some other rural areas)
- KARE (NBC 11) and WCCO-TV (CBS 4) Minneapolis, Minnesota (available in some Central Time zone markets like Thunder Bay and Manitoba) [KARE airs Jeopardy! at 4:30 p.m. CT, while WCCO airs Wheel of Fortune at 6:30 p.m. CT]
- KHQ-TV (NBC 6) Spokane, Washington (available in much of Alberta) [Jeopardy! airs at 7:00 p.m. PT / 8:00 p.m. MT, followed by Wheel]
- KOMO-TV (ABC 4) Seattle, Washington (available in cable in much of British Columbia)
These stations do change on occasion for various reasons, and it is not necessarily guaranteed that the two game shows will air on a major network affiliate in any given U.S. market. For example, in the early 2000s, after being dropped by the then-NBC affiliate WHDH for cost reasons, the two game shows aired in Boston for a few years on WSBK (then the UPN affiliate), before moving to co-owned station WBZ a few years later.
If your cable provider gets American network affiliates from a different market, this page maintained by Matt Carberry contains up-to-date listings for Jeopardy! for all U.S. markets; again, in the vast majority of cases, the same stations also air Wheel of Fortune. (You can also check listings on the official Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! websites, though you'd have to know the zip code of the city the stations originate from, and as Carberry points out, some data there may be out of date.)
What happens if Wheel and Jeopardy! are pre-empted on these stations?
Because Wheel and Jeopardy! are syndicated to stations with different U.S. network affiliations and schedules, editions of both programs are distributed each weekday regardless of any holidays or other special programming events, with repeats only airing in the summer months. How stations handle these pre-emptions varies by market, but most will end up airing the two series overnight, on a co-owned station or digital subchannel, or by moving the episodes back a day (i.e. airing the Friday episode on Saturday in place of the weekend repeat).
One example pertinent to viewers in much of Atlantic Canada: WBZ in Boston has a partnership with the local NFL team, which results in Patriots All-Access airing on WBZ in the 7:00 p.m. ET (8:00 AT) hour most Fridays (and occasional Thursdays) during football season (typically from August or September to January), and – at least in recent years – Wheel and Jeopardy! being shifted to the same times on sibling station WSBK (branded as "TV 38"). In some past years (and even now on rare occasions), the shows have been moved to overnight airings on WBZ instead.
WSBK-TV Boston is available in Canada, but it's less likely to be in a typical "full cable" package, having been historically treated as a premium American superstation included with some movie channel packages. Typical locations for WSBK on Canadian TV providers include Eastlink channel 634, Rogers classic digital cable channel 343, Rogers Ignite 173, Bell Satellite TV 296, Bell Aliant Fibe TV 377, and Shaw Direct 243 (One National lineup).
I don't have cable, or my PVR didn't work. Can I stream recent episodes of Wheel or Jeopardy! in Canada?
Unfortunately not at this point, at least in terms of methods authorized by the show's producers and distributor. Neither the Yes TV, NTV, nor CHEK websites have any kind of on-demand access to Wheel or Jeopardy!, nor are we aware of any Canadian cable providers that provide access to these programs on demand. There are official social media accounts on platforms like YouTube for both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! that show short clips, but not (usually) full episodes.
We did find a 2016 blog post referencing Yes TV having provided streaming access to the programs within Canada in in the past, as part of live-streams of the channels on its website, and it's our understanding that at least NTV did this as well. However, this streaming access seems to have ended circa 2020.
Yes TV has in fact discontinued its stations' online live streams entirely, perhaps due to its owner, Crossroads, having shifted its streaming focus to a religious service called Castle. We've looked through Castle's catalogue, and while it carries some other Yes TV shows, it does not provide access to either Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy!. Both NTV and CHEK still have livestreams, but last we checked, alternate programming was being supplied during the timeslots that the two game shows air on regular TV.
While both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have been available on Netflix in Canada at various points, these have been collections of past episodes that previously aired at least a year ago, not current episodes.
Finally, while there are a couple of U.S.-based services that can allow for access to Wheel and Jeopardy!, including Paramount+ and Stirr, these only apply to specific American markets where a local CBS-affiliated and/or Sinclair-owned station airs these programs – and do not extend to whatever version of the services may exist in Canada.
Depending on your internet provider, you may be able subscribe to a cable TV-style streaming package, like the Bell Fibe TV app or Telus Pik TV, that you can access through connected devices like smart TVs, which may give you access to one or more of the IndieNet stations and/or U.S. network affiliates that carry these shows. However, the monthly price may still be relatively high, particularly if these are the only two programs you'd need it for.
Why don't Wheel and Jeopardy! air nationally on Canadian stations anymore?
Longtime Canadian TV viewers may recall that both Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! aired nationally on CBC Television from 2008 to 2012. Even before that, from the early 1990s until 2008, the programs aired more or less nationally, mainly on CTV stations – including a few years where, at least in some markets, Wheel aired on CTV's sibling broadcast network, then known as A-Channel (now CTV2).
The CBC brought in the two game shows in 2008 to help promote its main primetime lineup of Canadian programming, but it was controversial among those who think the public broadcaster should be a refuge from the American programming that's predominant on other networks. By 2012, the CBC said the game shows were "a crutch" and no longer needed to promote other programming, following which they moved to IndieNet. It seems very unlikely that the CBC would bring the shows back any time soon.
While it might seem logical for one of the other Canadian private broadcast networks to pick up Wheel and Jeopardy!, producer Sony and/or distributor CBS might insist that the network agree to run the shows in a consistent timeslot, ideally back-to-back, with minimal pre-emptions.
However, none of the three major private-sector broadcast networks – CTV, Global, and Citytv – could accommodate that sort of requirement these days, as all regularly shift some of their main primetime programming into the 7:00 p.m. ET/PT hour, sometimes for weeks at a time, to accommodate special events or other overflow programming. Even CTV2 sometimes pre-empts regular programming in that hour in order to simulcast sports events.
These sorts of pre-emptions are never a concern for most of the IndieNet stations, as they do not rely on American simulcasts outside of these and a couple of other game shows (only NTV shifts its schedule a bit on occasion since it also runs primetime programs from Global).
CTV/CTV2 and Global also now use part of that 7:00 hour to fulfill some of their Canadian content requirements, with eTalk and ET Canada respectively, and they may have difficulty making up for that elsewhere in their schedules.
With those taken as given, even with their limited distribution, it still ends up being more financially beneficial for IndieNet to have these rights compared to, say, a national basic-cable channel, which would not be able to invoke simultaneous substitution (simsub) rights over American stations airing the two game shows.
Thus, seemingly by default, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have for now stuck with IndieNet in Canada, even though it means it's harder to watch the programs in some parts of Canada than it used to be.
- November 9-11, 2022 – minor updates, plus added channel listings for WSBK on select providers
- May 6, 2022 – trimmed some content about U.S. syndication scheduling that ultimately distracted from the core focus of the article