If you've always wanted a behind the scenes view of workings of NBC Studios, the NBC Studio Tour is a great choice. You'll learn about the history of NBC, as well as have a chance to see the studios used for several shows, including Saturday Night Live, Nightly News with Brian Williams and NBC Sports.
After spending about 10 minutes being led through security checkpoints and elevators, we arrived at the first stop on our NBC Studios Tour -- the NBC History Theatre. After our guides, Greg and Greer, demonstrated some of the tools used to create sound effects during NBC's early days as a radio broadcaster, we watched a brief video featuring Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. Matt and Katie welcomed us to the studio, and further discussed NBC's history. The video featured clips from many past and present NBC productions, including the Today Show which began in 1952 and the Tonight Show which first aired in 1954.
Our group was then brought to see the broadcast control room, where visitors can observe through a glass wall the monitors that are responsible for broadcasting over 100 hours of programming daily. NBC also has a backup broadcast control center in L.A., but with enough backup power to last a week without electricity, NYC seems pretty reliable.
Our group was then led through three different studios: Studio 3C where NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams is filmed; Studio 3K, home to NBC Sports, most famous for its Olympic coverage; and Studio 8H where Saturday Night Live is filmed. Studios featured on the tour vary, depending on which are being used, so you're not likely to see a studio that's in use or get a glimpse at any of your favorite NBC stars, but it's still neat to see what the Nightly News or Saturday Night Live set looks like when no one is there.
After seeing the studios, we were led to the Mini-Control Room, where each small group of visitors had an opportunity to have their picture taken behind the mock news desk. (Photos were available for sale after the tour, starting at $12.95, but there was no sales-pressure.) A volunteer from our group demonstrated how the "green screen" used for depicting weather forecasts, and even read a mythical weather report from the teleprompter.
The last stop on our tour was the NBC/Panasonic HDTV Theater. Supposedly intended to depict the "future of television and NBC," it was little more than a montage of clips from NBC shows.
The NBC Studios tour offers a thoroughly scripted opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes workings of the studios housed at 30 Rockefeller Center, but it's still an enjoyable experience. It's an especially great choice if you have in climate weather, since the entire tour is indoors, and also good for visitors who can't take too much walking or standing -- there are opportunities to sit for much of the tour.
Essential Information about NBC Studios Tour
- NBC Studios Tour meets in the NBC Experience Store at 30 Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center Map
- Closest subway to NBC Studios Tour: B, D, F, V at 47-50/Rock Center
- NBC Studios Tour Cross Streets: 5th & 6th Avenues (at 49th Street)
- NBC Studios Tour Phone: 212-664-7174
- NBC Studios Tour Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday - Saturday and 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Sundays; tours leave every 30 minutes on weekdays, every 15 minutes on weekends
- NBC Studios Tour Cost: Adults $18.50, Children (6-16) $15.50, Seniors $15.50, Groups (5 or more) $15.50
- NBC Studios Tour Payment: Cash and Major Credit Cards
- Children under age 6 are not permitted on the tour.
- You can book tickets online through Viator.
- Admission included with the New York Pass.
- If you miss your scheduled tour, they will charge you a 25% reticketing fee.
- The tour lasts about 1 hour and fifteen minutes.