Tuesday night's episode of America's Got Talent marked a historic first for the NBC competition. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, AGT filmed various auditions without a live audience. As all of the judges — Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Eric Stonestreet (who is filling in for Heidi Klum) — noted on the show, without an audience, AGT looks incredibly different than what viewers are used to.
At the beginning of the episode, host Terry Crews discussed with the judges the fact that AGT would be going on as scheduled without an audience. As Cowell even remarked, "Without the audience feedback, it is gonna be tough, I'm not gonna lie." Even though there wasn't an audience to provide any feedback for the judges, they all, of course, still put on their best foot forward to judge the various acts that auditioned. The first act of the night, the Wildcats cheerleading squad, set the tone for the audience-less version of AGT. Even though there wasn't a crowd to cheer them on, the group still nailed their routine and also earned a four-person standing ovation from the judges themselves.
It was initially reported in mid-March that AGT would continue to film amidst the coronavirus pandemic, although they would be doing so without a live audience. Fremantle, the company which produces AGT and programs such as Family Feud, released a statement about the move, saying that they were implementing this change with the safety of the crew and talent in mind. Fremantle told Deadline, "Due to the ongoing global situation around Covid-19, we have been working closely with our production teams and network partners to take measures to help minimize the risk of exposure to our cast, crew and live audiences. Effective immediately, we will refrain from filming in front of live audiences for our current productions America's Got Talent and Family Feud."
While they put this new plan in place amidst the pandemic, shortly after they announced this change, production on AGT had officially shut down. Sources told the New York Post in March that filming was suspended entirely "out of an abundance of caution." The show spent one day filming without a live audience, and only the judges and essential crew were on hand at the time.