'America's Got Talent' Season 16 Filmed in Front of a "Limited" Live Audience

Does 'AGT' have a live audience? Most phases of the NBC competition series are usually filmed on stage in front of a large audience. Details.

Shannon Raphael - Author

Jun. 8 2021, Published 6:11 p.m. ET

'AGT' Season 16
Source: NBC

Whether you tune in to see the amazing acts or because you love the judges' commentary, America's Got Talent is truly the ultimate variety competition show.

The NBC talent series debuted in 2006, and it's remained fresh over the years because of its ever-changing judging panel and the wide-ranging slate of ultra-skilled performers.

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Though the cast and the panelists have frequently shifted, the format of AGT has largely stayed the same.

However, for Season 16, which premiered on June 1, a few things were different because of the ongoing coronavirus (aka COVID-19) pandemic. Does AGT have a live audience? Read on to find out when the latest season filmed.

Source: NBC
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Does 'AGT' have a live audience?

There are a few things that fans have come to expect for every season of AGT: entertaining performances, disagreements between the judges, and epic reactions from the audience members.

The talent competition has generally been filmed in front of a live audience in Los Angeles, Calif. The spectators bring a high level of energy to the set, and they tend to either cheer on or boo at those who are on stage.

In Season 15, AGT was one of the first shows to navigate production at the beginning of the pandemic. The series taped without an audience, there were no guest judges, and some segments were condensed.

Things improved for Season 16, but not everything is back to normal.

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When the sixteenth season premiered with host Terry Crews and judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, and Sofia Vergara, some viewers were alarmed to see the camera pan to a room with a full, maskless audience. Since California's mask mandate is in effect until June 15, many wondered how AGT got around the safety protocols.

Source: NBC
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A representative for the NBC show told Good Housekeeping that there was a "limited" in-person audience present throughout filming. As for the clips that showcase a full crowd, those are actually from past seasons of the series. Archived footage was added in for Season 16 in order to give viewers the level of energy that they've come to expect from the show.

Howie told People that, though the audience was smaller for Season 16, it was still "wonderful" to get live reactions from people in real time.

"It was wonderful — it's like you've been lost forever, and now you feel like, 'I'm home,'" he said about getting the audience back. "Just to hear a reaction behind you, just to hear anybody be behind you and, kind of, affirm that what you just heard or what you just saw or how you just judged — they're either in agreement with [you], or they're totally opposed to what you just said."

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The season was filmed in accordance with California's rules regarding COVID-19, and it features a mixture of "real and virtual shots."

It was also shot in one location in order to limit any potential spread, and to keep all of the performers and the judges safe.

Source: NBC

When was 'AGT' Season 16 filmed?

The sixteenth edition of the popular NBC competition commenced production in Pasadena, Calif. at the end of March in 2021. Filming concluded several weeks later, in April of 2021.

The auditions were virtual, though a special room was created to mimic the real experience. Once the group was narrowed down, the show continued with in-person performances.

America's Got Talent airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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