If you are an American junkie like me, and immerse yourself in everything and anything to do with America, you’ll have no doubt at some point in time watched the Today Show broadcast on NBC which is broadcast from the famous studio 1A right in the heart of Rockefeller Center every weekday morning in the U.S.
You may also be like me and wondered how people get in the crowd which lines the outside of the studio each and every morning, no matter how hot, cold, windy, rainy or fine and get your chance to rub shoulders with some of the best known TV personalities in the United States including Matt Lauer, Savannah Gutherie, Natalie Morales and everyone’s favourite weather man, Al Roker.
If you get on TV don’t forget to tell your Mum back in Australia to watch on Channel 7
The best thing about being in the Today Show crowd is that there is no secret to doing it. Unlike other popular NBC TV shows like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where you need to either enter a lottery, be prepared to queue up to get tickets or reserve them months in advance, to be in the crowd for the Today Show all you need to do is be prepared to show up early to get a good spot, go through a quick security check and wait – that’s it. Here are a few of the important details to ensure you get the best spot.
Where exactly is the show broadcast from?
The NBC Today Show is broadcast from Studio 1A and is located on the corner of West 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. It is located diagonally across from the Rockefeller Ice skating rink (if you are visiting between November and March) and is on the opposite side of W49th Street from the NBC Experience Store.
When is the show?
The NBC Today show broadcasts each weekday morning from 7am – 9am, and on the weekend from 8am.
What time should I arrive?
The timing of your arrival will greatly depend on the time of year you are visiting New York from Australia and on which day of the week you plan on visiting.
The busiest days of the week are Monday and Friday. This coincides with when more tourists are in the city to take advantage of a longer weekend in the City that never sleeps.
What time should I arrive at the Today Show in Summer?
If you are planning on visiting the show from June through until August NewYorkConcierge.com.au recommends getting to Rockefeller Plaza and lining up for security from 5am.
What time should I arrive at the Today Show in Spring and Autumn?
If you are planning on visiting the show from April through until June or August through until October / November we recommend getting there anytime between 6:00am – 6:30am. If you are in the warmer of those months we recommend getting there closer to 6am (or just before) to try and get the best spots
What time should I arrive at the Today Show in Winter?
If you don’t mind the cold, visiting the Today Show in January and February can be the best time to go, there are less crowds and you can basically show up and walk straight in anytime during the show from 7am – 9am.
If you are planning on going to watch the show in December remember that this is one of New York’s busiest times, so there will be plenty of other tourists prepared to brave the cold weather with you, so I recommend getting there from 6:00am to get the best spot – but remember to dress warmly.
Related: How to dress for a New York Winter
Where do I enter from?
Entry to the NBC Today Show is from the corner of West 48th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. There will be security and dedicated NBC Page’s available to help with any questions from early in the morning (time is dependant on the season).
Where are the best spots to watch from and get on TV?
If you have told your Mum that you will be on the Today Show and she is waiting back home in Australia eagerly scanning the crowd for you, the best spot to be is directly opposite the window to the Studio effectively right in front of the Bouchon Bakery (1 Rockefeller Plaza), or anywhere along W49th Street
The camera will constantly scan the crowd during the broadcast, both when the Anchors and Al Roker are broadcasting from the Plaza, but also when the show is leaving for and returning from a commercial break.
Do I need a ticket?
No. This is one of the best things about visiting the NBC Today Show. If you are planning on visiting during the busier months, NBC has introduced an RSVP option, which we haven’t personally used.
Is there security?
Yes. Prior to entering the Plaza all visitors will be required to go through a bag check by security officials. In our experience this has been a very quick process.
Can I take food?
Yes. There are also plenty of food options nearby as well, including the aforementioned Bouchon Bakery, which we recently dined in for breakfast and offers a great selection of French patisseries and other breakfast items, however the coffee was only average.
There are also concessions / shops available on the concourse level of the Rockefeller Center which open from 6am during the week.
What about cameras?
The show encourages fans and visitors to take photos and share their experience on social media.
Will I get to meet the hosts of the show?
Absolutely. The show anchors and special guests will broadcast parts of the show from outside, even in the depths of winter, and more often than not, they will script the show so that the Anchors and stars have the opportunity to do a quick meet and greet of the visitors before the segment begins.
Weatherman extraordinaire Al Roker gets the most outside broadcast time, and it a true professional when it comes to mingling with the crowd. In my multiple visits he has always spent extra time with the visitors and personally tried to shake as many hands (and take selfies) with as many people as possible.
Can I take a sign?
Not only can you take one, but it’s highly encouraged. So if you want to send a shout-out back to Australia, or just say hi to Mum and Dad, don’t forget to pack it before you got, or simply visit a Staples store or Office Depot located throughout Manhattan and get your creative juices flowing.
During the busier Summer months, the NBC Pages also set up a small station where you can create your own Today Show branded sign providing the paper and writing utensils which is great for all the tourists visiting the show.
How will I know who will come out at what time?
This is where it become a bit of a lottery. The Production Managers and NBC Pages will provide updates throughout the morning but expect there to be long times without any action from any of the Anchors or special guests outside while they are broadcasting the show from inside Studio 1A, or playing a pre-recorded piece.
When are the busy times?
The crowds are busiest through the Northern Summer months – June through until August. This also coincides with a summer concert series that NBC put on every Friday morning during Summer where local and international acts perform for the crowds and it is telecast as part of the show.
If you are planning on visiting during Summer it is advised that you get to the studio around 6am (or earlier on Friday’s and Monday’s). If there is a major band / performer headlining the Summer Concert Series – it will be very busy very early so keep that in mind.
When is the quietest time to go?
During the colder months of January & February. The overall crowds in NYC drop considerably (as to the prices) and there are fewer die-hard fans willing to brave the cold temperatures and line up.
How cold does it get in Winter – are there any heaters?
Very Cold! As with any Winter in New York City it can get very very cold (particularly compared with an Australian winter) and there are no heaters provided. So ensure that you dress accordingly and don’t stand outside for too long.
Also it is best to bear in mind that given the buildings that surround Studio 1A if there is any wind around it can drop the temperature considerably more, and very quickly.
We are travelling as part of a group – can get organise something so we can all be together?
Not specifically. Although as part of their new RSVP system, NBC are requesting that if you are part of a group to RSVP before hand, particularly if you are planning on visiting during the busier months.
Again as we haven’t specifically used this service yet I am not sure how effective it will be for groups wishing to visit. But as with visiting on your own or as a couple the best advice is to get there as early as possible.