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Major television networks are abandoning audiences for their live shows in an effort to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, networks confirmed on Wednesday.

The big picture: 2020 candidates are canceling political rallies out of concern for COVID-19, as sports leagues and teams take similar precautions by barring fans from some of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year.

Driving the news: NBC, ABC and CBS all announced measures Wednesday to air late-night television programs, game shows and live daytime talk shows without live audiences.

  • Most of the big broadcast networks are removing audiences from their late-night television shows, sources tell Axios. That includes NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" and "Late Night With Seth Meyers" and CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
  • Not all daytime live show audiences are being canceled, but many are. All of ABC's live studio audiences will reportedly go audience-free, including "The View" and "Live With Kelly and Ryan." CBS' daytime talk show "The Talk" still has its audience, but is assessing the situation daily, according to sources.
  • Cable networks are playing it safe. HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” TBS' Full-Frontal With Samantha Bee" and Comedy Central’'s "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" said they'll begin taping without live audiences.

Our thought bubble: Some shows are somewhat dependent on their audiences as part of their content. A spokesperson for "The Price is Right" said they are "taking the health of our employees, contestants and audience members very seriously and are continually monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis."

Sports teams and leagues are following suit.

  • The NBA said Wednesday it canceled games until further notice in response to the outbreak, and it announced a Utah Jazz player had tested positive for the virus.
  • NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will be played without fans, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced Wednesday.
  • The Big Ten Conference said starting Thursday game attendance at all spring and winter competitions will be restricted to coaches, event staff, student-athletes, immediate family members, media and conference staff.
  • The National Hockey League announced Thursday it would "pause" its current season after determining it was "no longer appropriate to continue to try to play games at this time."
  • Major League Soccer said Thursday that it is suspending matches for 30 days.

Yes, but: The Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards management group still plans to host games in Washington, D.C., Monumental Sports announced Wednesday. There are at least 10 presumptive cases in D.C. — including person-to-person transmission.

The bottom line: Fans aren't only integral to the game experience, but leagues, teams and networks depend on the money they bring in.

Political rallies are being canceled left and right.

  • President Trump canceled upcoming rallies in Colorado and Nevada, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters on Wednesday.
  • Trump's decision comes after Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden canceled dueling rallies in Cleveland, Ohio, amid the virus spread, and after Florida's AFL-CIO presidential forum was called off.
  • Biden and Sanders will not debate in front of a live audience in Phoenix, Arizona, this weekend, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego confirmed on Tuesday.

The big picture: The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that it classified the novel coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, causing companies that were on the fence about taking drastic precautionary measures to pull the trigger.

What's next: It's still unclear whether baseball's Opening Day games will be canceled, but the NBA's suspension of its season makes it more difficult for other leagues to decide to play.

Go deeper: Coronavirus updates

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