If you are visiting New York and want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider attending the taping of your favorite New York-based show. Oftentimes, the tickets are free and easy to apply for. However, the process of getting into a studio audience is a bit nuanced. Depending on the show you want to see, and whether it’s taped or live, becoming a studio audience member in New York requires various strategies.
Decide on the Show
Which show you may be able to attend depends entirely on personal preference and ticket availability. Clearly, it will be harder to see seasonal shows during the summer and holiday seasons when many hosts are on break, but live tapings of New York staples such as the Today Show and Good Morning America occur seven days a week, year round. Other shows, such as The View and Live! With Kelly are recorded live each day when in season. Finally, syndicated shows like The Rachel Ray Show, Letterman, and Dr. Oz are taped midweek during various times and then played a few weeks later.
To increase your chance of success, study the audience patterns of your particular show on its website as well as discussion boards and learn when the best times to attend are. Generally speaking, spring, summer and the holidays are tough since many tourists visit the city and gobble up stand-by tickets. Though interns have been known to “hand out” tickets to shows like Letterman at various tourist spots in the City, getting these is pure right place, right time luck. Your best bet, therefore, is attending “off season.” If you have the ability to visit in January and February, for example, you are more likely to get a seat fast.
Know Your Options and Show Up Early
Morning talk shows that film people “on the street” do not offer tickets, but rather rely on a first come, first served system of self-governance among their viewers. During special seasons such as Today’s Summer Concert Series, people will line up before dawn to see their favorite stars perform live for free, though, so the time you need to show up will change according to the show’s docket. Generally, the earlier the better though.
Live shows and many taped shows as well do offer physical tickets to viewers, but many are overbooked to accommodate no-shows and avoid empty studio seats. If you have a ticket to one of these tapings, do not arrive at the latest possible moment. Shows like The View suggest arriving no later than 9:30, but for a good seat you need to be there by 8.
Finally, if you cannot get tickets to your show of choice, you always have the option of arriving and standing on the stand-by line. Though stand-by members almost always get seated in the back of the studio, on days with inclement weather and those during the “off” season, your likelihood of getting into the audience is greatly increased. Stand-by is also first come, first served however, so showing up early is the way to go.
If you absolutely have your heart set on a particular show and are wary of the gamble of stand-by, the best option that you have is patience. Many shows such as Live! and The View have wait lists that stretch a year or more! Being flexible is the best way to get results.
The good news is, for those close enough or dedicated enough to travel to New York more than once, many shows will “give up” tickets faster to repeat customers. However, you generally need to wait between six months and a year before they will let you join the audience again, so pay attention to the fine print!