Being on TV was always a dream of mine. Whenever I was home sick and I would watch the Price is Right I wanted to know how I could be an On-Camera Audience Member.
I thought that you had to pay to be an audience member, but I quickly learned that you can score free TV show tickets.
My main goal was to learn how to get Ellen show tickets and I surpassed that by being on multiple TV shows in Chicago, New York, and of course Los Angeles.
A few years ago, my family and I took a trip to Chicago, and my mother asked me if we could get tickets to the Steve Harvey TV show.
Not knowing what we were doing or getting ourselves into, we applied and quickly got tickets for a day that worked with our schedule! I thought the process was easy and I soon learned that seeing Steve Harvey in Chicago was easier than most of the shows that I would apply for.
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The Process of being an Audience Member
Most TV show hosts their free tickets online either through their website or a third party system. No matter what, you shouldn’t pay to be on a TV show. If anything you could be paid to be an extra in the audience or in a movie.
Most shows offer lotteries for tickets. The process is pretty simple, however not every TV show is easy to get tickets. Sometimes, even if you get a ticket or a standby ticket your seat or being on TV is not guaranteed. Every show needs to have a full house for the audience shots so they over budget for seat fillers.
Where can I be on Television?
A good number of TV shows are filmed in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas, but some other cities have talk shows including Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. Sometimes shows go on the road and you can catch a special taping in smaller markets such as Orlando or even New Orleans!
Depending on your travel plans, you should look into being an audience member for your favorite TV show. Many of the bigger shows tape September – May and take the summer off, but some game shows will tape during the summer.
Why would I want to be on TV?
If your dream is to be on a reality TV show, this guide is not for you, I haven’t been on a reality show, and I’m now too old to be on MTV’s Real World (which I’m pretty sure isn’t airing anymore). But if you are looking for those 15 minutes of fame, filling out a seat in an audience is the way to go!
Better yet – if you sign up for a game show, you might even be front and center and go home with plenty of games and prizes.
Online Resources for Audience Members
I’ve applied and successfully be on many TV shows over the years – click to jump down and see which TV shows I’ve attended.
Each show and website has its own process, but the general rule of thumb is tickets are released 30-45 days before taping, this gives you enough time to make plans for a last minute vacation or fill in the gap with additional activities.
Many sitcoms and talk shows may sell out the day they are released, while some shows many send you emails to let you know that seats are still. The best thing to do here is to stay flexible in your plans.
Audiences Unlimited – These free tickets are released on the website starting 30 days before the show date. All shows are in Los Angeles and are taped Monday through Friday. Tapings can begin anywhere from 9 am to 7 pm in the evening. Popular sitcoms and talk shows such as Dr. Phil, Fuller House, America’s Funniest Videos, The Big Bang Theory and more!
On Camera Audiences – Tickets are released for audience members to grab a priority ticket or to submit their information for a lottery 30 days before the show date. Many of the shows are filmed in Los Angeles, but there are some smaller market with TV shows. Popular shows include The Price is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and Family Feud.
1iota – Tickets for audience members and featured events are found on this website. Ever wanted to be a seat filler for the I Heart Radio Music Festival? This is your website. You can get tickets to The Late Late Show with James Corden, The View, and the newly launched Will and Grace. Most of the tickets are for Los Angeles or New York City.
Additional ways to get Free TV Audience Tickets
TV Shows like Saturday Night Live and The Ellen Show handle their own ticketing requests. Each August, you must submit a request to Snltickets@nbcuni.com to enter into the lottery. To this date, I haven’t won tickets to Saturday Night Live I do have a friend who was on it once!
Jimmy Fallon’s tickets are hard to come by. Tickets are released once a month, and its announced via Twitter the date the tickets are released. Make sure to sign up for your 1iota.com account before trying to score the tickets.
Ellen’s tickets are another rare gem. Tickets are posted on their website as available, you fill out a form, and wait for a mysterious phone call from Burbank California. No Matter where you are – answer this phone call if you want your Ellen Tickets!
How to get tickets to get on TV
1. Make a game plan to get tickets – if you go to Hollywood, then you have more of a chance to apply for tickets in person for last minute openings.
Many people flake out on their reserved tickets so sometimes standby tickets are available for last-minute seat fillers.
2. Review all the rules – sometimes you can only apply for lotteries once per household per day.
Other times it’s once per email per day. Saturday Night Live only allows you to apply once a year!
Make sure you read the rules, so you don’t get disqualified or worse banned! You can’t be on TV is you are banned from being an audience member.
3. Make an account for TV Tickets – Many of the sites use a third party so if you need to create an account – do it before the day you have to apply.
Not being prepared will cause a lot less stress when a lottery opens and may even make you miss your window of opportunity for applying for audience tickets.
4. Answer all calls on your cell phone when waiting for tickets – I usually screen my calls when they come from an unknown number.
One random day when a number from Burbank called me while I was getting a coffee.
Luckily for me, I picked up the phone, and it was someone from NBC letting me know that I had won tickets to the Ellen show!
You don’t want to miss this call because I have a feeling they do not do callbacks.
5. Request accessible seats – if you have any type of handicap make sure to apply for the handicap seats. These seats are not necessarily better or will help you get on TV quicker, but it helps the organizers ensure that there is an appropriate seating arrangement for you.
If you have a walker, cane, wheelchair, etc., this will come in handy because they generally seat the handicapable people first based on their levels of mobility.
You can also request seating after you win the free tickets.
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Getting on TV
6. Get there early – some tv shows tell you what time you are slotted to show up. Other shows give you a couple of hours where you can arrive in the waiting rooms.
I try to show up as early as possible, so I can get a lower number ensuring that I will be one of the first people seated in the audience.
If allowed, bring some snacks with you, most “live” shows will take about an hour to film, but you could spend up to six hours waiting for the taping.
7. Wear bright clothing – most networks ask you to wear certain colors that show well on TV.
I love wearing hot pinks because they show up well on TV.
When you wear brighter colors, you are usually seated more towards the front, and the camera naturally goes towards the brightly colored shirts.
8. Be animated but act natural – Like going on an interview, from the time you arrive at the studio until the time you are seated, the staff is analyzing you.
The staff is seeing if you would look good on camera, act charismatically, and may even select you to ask the host a question, or play in a game show.
Of course, they do not want someone who is shy, not smiling or applauding front and center in the audience!
9. Don’t do anything dumb – I’ve said this multiple times but follow directions.
If they don’t want you to bring your cell phone, lock it up or leave it behind.
If they don’t want you to bring food into the studio eat it or throw it away while you are waiting.
Each studio usually has a couple of standby audience members just hoping for someone to not show up or get removed from the studio.
I’ve actually witnessed people kicked out of the waiting room or studio for breaking the rules.
10. No Matter What Have Fun – You might get separated from your party (I have!) or you might be way in the back (I’ve done that too!).
No matter what if you have fun you have a chance to get on TV!
After you are finished with the taping, then tell all of your friends and make sure one of them tape it for you!
Free TV Shows I’ve received tickets for
- Steve Harvey (no longer airing) – We applied for tickets through Steve Harvey’s Website and received an answer very quickly. I was separated from my family because of my brightly colored shirt, and I was seen clapping and smiling on TV. We received a Michael Buble CD.
- The Talk – Got tickets quite easily through 1iota.com – just selected which day we wanted to go to and downloaded the tickets. Mom and I sat in accessible seating and my sister was separated out and was in the front row. She was seen clapping and smiling. We got to meet Sheryl Underwood.
- Queen Latifah (no longer airing) – I am so sad that Queen Latifa is no longer airing but this was one of the best shows to visit. We sat in the front row (accessible seating) and were able to shake hands with the Queen.
- Jimmy Kimmel (concert only) – Applied multiple times and put myself on multiple wait lists but was never able to score tickets. I tried as hard so I could to get tickets to Jimmy Kimmel the multiple times I was in Los Angeles, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be! I did score tickets and visited the concert set multiple times; please note – do not bring a large purse to the concert! You must bring only a small wallet or small purse.
- The Price is Right – Signed up on On-Camera-Audience’s website and was able to get early morning tickets for a morning Taping. The Price is Right is an all-day experience – I would suggest doing the early morning taping over the afternoon taping. They interview every single audience member so come prepared to dazzle the producers! No one from my group was selected to ‘come on down’ we were on the front row! During this time I really stepped up on my Get on TV agenda and because of that, I have this awesome clip right below.
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- The Ellen Show – One of the harder shows to get tickets for – I applied for over two years for every month almost every day and finally got tickets in January 2015. A few weeks after my show aired, the clip below was in a newsletter and that is me – shaking my money maker! I didn’t realize what I did during the commercial was going to be on TV!
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I think I may have topped my @therealpriceisright audience debut. Ellen made fun of butt shakers on her monologue. I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed, but millions of people have seen my dance moves. The only thing that could make this better is if I could meet @theellenshow (because I already met @arielhalp!) #sorryitsari #imatellen Enjoy – I’m glad I could make some people laugh! #departtravel
- The Tonight Show – Probably the hardest tickets to get – The Tonight Show only releases tickets on a certain day each month for the next month (so you have to reserve your July tickets in early June). At the end of the show Jimmy Fallon and Nelly came around and gave everyone high fives! You can see me switching spots with my mom so I could give them a high five in this clip below
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