Coronavirus & TV Production: Shows, Sports Broadcasts Halted

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought about great disruption to people’s daily lives, and the far-reaching impact has hit the broadcast industry as well. To help prevent the spread of the disease, TV productions for news, sports and general entertainment shows have made changes from removing audiences to halting production altogether. 

Here is a rundown of what productions are doing (UPDATED 4/15 @ 3:48 p.m.)

  • "American Idol" has announced it will conduct live performance episodes remotely.
  • E.W. Scripps has announced that its senior leadership is taking pay cuts to support employees impacted by the coronavirus.
  • "Saturday Night Live" announced that it will remotely produce a new episode to air in its normal 11:30 p.m. time slot on April 11.
  • CBS' freshman drama "All Rise" is virtually producing a new episode specifically related to the current coronavirus pandemic.
  • Many late-night talk shows— "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," "Late Night With Stephen Colbert," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," "The Daily Show," "Conan" "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" among them—have begun producing episodes virtually, per Variety.
  • All major sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLS, MLB and others) have suspended play for the time being; the NCAA has cancelled all of its winter and spring sports, which includes the popular NCAA March Madness tournament that was expected to start on March 17. MoffettNathanson Research has estimated that in the event that the NBA does not resume play this season it could lead to a loss in revenue of $306 million for Disney (which owns ESPN) and $168 million for AT&T (which owns TNT), according to TVT’s sister publication B&C.

    In addition, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed and rescheduled to 2021.

    The Hollywood Reporter initially reported that the Masters golf tournament, which airs on CBS, has been postponed. The PGA has announced a tentative rescheduling of the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and The Masters.

    Tennis' Wimbledon has also been cancelled.
  • Cobalt Iron has launched the "Make the Switch Without the Risk" program, which extends the company's Compass software-as-a-service data protection technology to assist with remote production.
  • B&C has also announced that it has rescheduled the Wonder Women and NYC TV Week events that were originally scheduled for March 24-26. The events will now take place in June.
  • "Saturday Night Live" has postponed its next three shows, according to a report by Variety.
  • According to BuzzFeed, a number of TV dramas and comedies have halted production because of coronavirus. This includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Carnival Row,” “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor,” “The Price is Right,” “The Morning Show,” “Riverdale,”
    Many talk shows, meanwhile, have announced that they will continue to film but without a live audience. These include: “Ellen,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Jeopardy,”  “The View,” “One Day at a Time” and more.
  • Similarly, the Los Angeles Times reports that Universal Television and a number of ViacomCBS brands have announced that production will pause for two weeks, after which the situation will be reassessed.
  • Streaming giant Netflix is not immune to COVID-19's impact, as The Hollywood Reporter reported that all scripted TV and film physical production and prep has been shut down for two weeks in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Yahoo has reported that the CW's "The Flash" and the show "Lucifer" have also suspended production. Later, reported that Warner Bros. Television Group, which the two aforementioned programs fall under, has shut down all of its productions for the time being.
  • Disney Television Studios have postponed production on all of its broadcast pilots by at least three weeks, according to TheWrap. Production has also been shelved on Dinsey-owned National Geographic's "Genius: Aretha" about Aretha Franklin.
  • TVLine reports that "American Idol" has suspended its production, effective immediately, though episodes will continue to air until the scheduled beginning of live shows, which were set for mid-April.
  • In New York, CBS News HQ had two employees test positive for COVID-19, and as a result evacuated its offices and instructed its employees to work from home until a unspecified future date.
  • Many networks have also announced that they are canceling their upfront presentations. NBCUniversal announced, per B&C, that it will instead stream its presentation about NBC’s 2020-2021 season. Disney has done the same.
  • However, there always seem to be some who try to take advantage of a bad situation. NPR has reported that televangelist Jim Bakker is being sued by the state of Missouri over the advertising and selling of Silver Solution, which was promoted on the show as a potential treatment for COVID-19. 
  • Veritone has announced that it is giving users—which includes TV, sports and radio operators—that is extending free access to its core applications like Veritone Essentials, Attribute and Digital Media Hub for 60 days. 

TVT will update this article as more information becomes available.