‘CBS Mornings’ gains ‘view’ of Times Square

After its move to Times Square on Sept. 7, 2021, “CBS Mornings” is finally taking advantage of the view from its prime real estate — sort of.

The show, which moved into a second floor studio space designated Studio 1515 inside the ViacomCBS building, the day after Labor Day along with its new name, has notably never really taken advantage of the windows overlooking Times Square.

Part of the space was once home to MTV’s “Total Request Live” that took advantage of the views of bustling square outside thanks to floor to ceiling windows.

When CBS used the space for its 2020 election coverage in November 2020, a setup that was originally meant to be temporary, the network covered the windows with large CBS News logo graphics, though the video wall behind the anchor desk sported an “enhanced” view of Times Square that replaced some of the iconic digital billboards with CBS branding graphics and an electoral college map.

CBS News Election Headquarters 2020

The CBS election headquarters studio, which was later converted to the home of ‘CBS Mornings,’ how it looked on election night 2020.

However, the space didn’t actually have any real windows overlooking Times Square, which sources say was done for both security reasons and to help isolate the network’s Decision Desk that was located in the space as well.

Fast forward to September 2021 and “CBS Mornings” moved into the space, using the same basic set structure that was used back in November, though with some updates to finishes to warm up the look.

The network left the window coverings in place and even built a new enclosed green room that doubles as studio space that effectively walled in the studio from any exterior windows.

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Starting Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, however, the network switched to using a digitally modified view of Times Square instead of the faux windows overlooking a simulated NYC skyline or yellow and orange graphics that had been shown on the video wall behind home base.

The “view” is roughly the same as on election night, with the network opting to insert branded graphics on the left and right side.

Later in the show, the show did switch back to the virtual set extension’s bay of windows, as shown in this file publicity photo.

In another interesting twist, not only is the view simulated, it’s also not even physically possible to achieve from the studio, even if it had real windows — because the view shows the building the studio is in directly behind the anchors. 

Just off camera center where Gayle King typically sits, viewers can see the large window graphics for Disney’s Broadway musical “The Lion King,” which occupies a theater in the upper floors of the same building the studio is in.

Below that it’s just possible to make out the election themed CBS News window coverings that are still in place from November — and behind those somewhere is where King and her co-anchors are actually sitting.

On election night, CBS opted to cover the “Lion King” display with either a digital inserted branded graphic or the electoral map.

The choice to leave that uncovered is interesting — though it does retain at least some of the realism of the feed, it’s also a rather large and glaring graphic thanks to its bring yellow color.

It’s also a blatant advertisement for a Disney owned production, which owns rival ABC, whose “Good Morning America” studios sit just down the street from “CBS Mornings.”

The change also meant that the show did not use the animated “EyeOpener” graphics on the video wall as King introduced the news summary segment it traditional starts each hour with. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, the show continued showcasing the Times Square view, but changed angles and didn’t appear to modify any of the electronic billboards or add any branded overlays.

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