Popular New York TV shows stop taping with live TV audiences after President Trump and CDC asked Americans to keep all gatherings to less than ten people


In a synchronized move by most of the popular TV shows, announcements were made on Wednesday evening March 11th, 2020 that most TV shows would begin taping their shows without a live audience until further notice. This decision was made due to the rapidly spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has been infecting people around the world and TV shows do not want to make things any worse. The number of infected is now in the hundreds of thousands and NYC is at a particular high risk of infection. NYC and its nearby suburbs began postponing and canceling large events that were planned to take place during March and April 2020, in order to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, and TV shows are no exception. Earlier on the same day that the TV shows made their announcement, the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, banned events of over 500 people from taking place. His ban initially affected Broadway shows the most, as all of the Broadway theatres were forced to shut down. TV shows took note of the ban and proactively took a similar step, even though they were not specifically asked to. A few days later President Trump, and the Coronavirus task force, limited all gatherings to under ten people to stop the spread of the virus. New York TV shows have made a compromise to continue to record and air their shows, but to do so without a live studio audience on the set.

Stephen Colbert performed his first audienceless version of The Late Show on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 and at-home fans seemed to enjoy the novelty of it. He began the show by announcing that “America is Closed!” and proceeded to run around the near empty Ed Sullivan Theatre (where his show tapes), giving air high-fives to the dozen or so show staff members who were in the theatre’s seats. Colbert likes to go off-the-script more often than not and his recent shows have been well received by at-home viewers, despite the lack of live studio audience and the energy that they bring.

Ryan Seacrest, who co-hosts Live! with Kelly Ripa said on their show on Wednesday morning “It feels like we’re auditioning, every day!”

Whoopi Goldberg said on The View “For the first time ever, as you can see, we made the decision not to have a studio audience. This is unprecedented.” The Republican bashing show still had its acidic and mean-spirited tone, despite a lack of in-studio audience who would normally gin up the panel.

H3: Which New York TV Shows Are Taping Without a Live Audience

Good Morning America
The Today Show
The View
Live With Kelly and Ryan
The Greg Gutfeld Show
The Wendy Williams Show
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Dr. Oz
The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Saturday Night Live Decided to halt their current season and play reruns until the Coronavirus passes. In Hollywood most TV shows have dropped the studio audience and the taping of Dr. Phil and Ellen are no exceptions.

Downsides of Not Having a Live Studio Audience

Many TV show hosts are having a tough time dealing with the lack of a live studio audience because most of them are used to working off the energy of the crowd and hearing their live response and feedback, which is integral to their content and delivery. Late night comedians typically need audience feedback as this drives their act and they get a feel for what jokes are hitting and what jokes are missing. TV shows whose main source of entertainment are from celebrity interviews, had to adjust their standard seating arrangements to meet with the CDC guidelines of keeping a six to ten foot space between people to avoid infection. This recommendation is to keep the chances of spreading the deadly disease to a minimum. Some feel that the celebrity interviews have felt more ‘awkward’ since this standard was put in place, but at least they can still go ahead, albeit encumbered.

Upsides of Not Having a Live Studio Audience

Depending on the TV show host, the absence of an in-studio audience has made some of them feel a lot less inhibited, which has allowed their act to make for a more loose and enjoyable show. Some late night TV show hosts are enjoying the freedom of going off script and making up material as they go, without the pressure of their usual live audience who they need to impress. Also the lack of the live studio audience has put many TV show producers at greater ease, because they can now have increased confidence that their hosts, band and important staff members have a much lower chance of getting infected by the Coronavirus from a random fan who wants an autograph.

All of the live NYC taped TV shows tickets are free, but for recovery the show production may have to start paying people to come and see the show, which already happens in a few of the New York shows like Build, Bobby Flay and Judge Jerry. All NYC TV shows who tape with a live studio audience will not be offering tickets for their shows until further notice.