When America's Got Talent Season 16 aired its premiere on June 1, fans took not of the crowd on hand to watch the various auditions. This is a big difference from the latter part of Season 15 of AGT, which saw the production going the virtual route for many of the episodes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, viewers wondered why there appeared to be a sizeable group of in-person attendees. But, NBC did release a statement in which they explained why viewers saw a rather full audience.
Good Housekeeping reported that they reached out to AGT for comment on the audience. They got back to them to explain why there were many individuals who were able to watch the auditions in person. AGT's representative said that they filmed with a "limited audience" and that the production team was able to come up with a "hybrid" solution to keep the crew and talent safe. They shared that they incorporated the live audience with archival footage that they had from prior tapings to make it seem as though there was a full crowd present.
"With the world striving to get back to some sort of normalcy, we realized that much of the joy in watching AGT is feeling the audience response in the room to the auditions and feeding off their energy," the representative added. "AGT resumed production with comprehensive health and safety plans. The production protocols implemented comply with Fremantle & NBCUniversal's safety guidelines, CDC guidance, along with state & local orders." In addition to this statement, AGT also aired a disclaimer at the end of the premiere in which they noted that they were still following COVID-19 safety measures in order to keep everyone involved in the production safe.
Their disclaimer mirrored the statement that AGT's rep recently shared with Good Housekeeping. They wrote that "due to COVID health restrictions," they utilized footage from prior seasons with new content that they obtained via filming with a limited audience in attendance. They added, "The use of these visuals was for creative purposes only and did not impact the outcome of the judging." As previously stated, AGT premiered on June 1 and was able to get back to some of its pre-pandemic roots in the process. All of the judges — Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell — returned for Season 16. Additionally, Terry Crews returned as the host.