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NFL Season to Start with Digital Fans and Fake Crowd Noise

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    With the cornavirus still taking it's toll on sports and the world as a whole the NFL season is quickly approaching and fans are wondering how the game is going to be played for the foreseeable future. With the preseason slated for August 6th, that makes it just about 3 months out from today. I'm optimistic that things will be much better by then in several regards, though I don't see fans being able to pack stadiums again any time soon, and definitely not by August or the regular season start in September. Though I do strongly think that the NFL seasons will go on as planned.

    It looks like Fox is already prepared for how to deal with broadcasting an NFL game with no fans in the stadiums. Fox plans to digitize fans into the stadium seats and insert crowd noise into the game broadcasts. The play-by-play announcer for Fox Joe Buck said this while speaking with Andy Cohen on Sirius XM:

    "It's pretty much a done deal. I think whoever is going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field."

    I'm happy with this decision. After all, It's hard to image watching an NFL game without the roar of the crowd going on in the background. I just recently watched UFC 249 without fans and it was extremely obvious and different, though I enjoyed it after a while. I was able to focus much better on the fighters, the ref calls, the coach calls and was able to hear every punch and kick land. But that's a completely different situation. I think Fox is making the right decision here with the digital fans and crowd reactions. I just hope they don't go too crazy with it. Like Buck said above, whoever does that needs to be a lifelong fan of the NFL, not your average audio engineer. They need to know when and where crowds usually do what they do. If they do this incorrectly it's going to be very obvious and very irritating (remembering when Fox made the awful decision to make the hockey puck glow so people could see it better :|).

    Do you think this is the right way to go? Or do you think it is what it is and they should broadcast the realistic situation?

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    Good question. This is essentially like adding a laugh track to an NFL game. But instead of fake laughs, you get fake crowd noise. Same science though, and something TV networks have been doing for years/decades, so I think it will be fine.

    I don't know which I would prefer. But I do know some sitcoms really need a laugh track, otherwise they are terrible. And some are great without any at all. I think the UFC is more capable of going without than the NFL, but honestly I would like to see an NFL game without artificial noise as well; maybe its kinda cool.

    PowerPlay Wrote:
    Fox plans to digitize fans into the stadium seats

    This is the part I have no idea about. What does this mean exactly? That they are going to fill up the stands with holographic fans? Or just use CG to make it look like fans are in the stands for TV viewers sake? Or what? Maybe use old fan footage?

    I guess it would be very weird to hear crowd noise but never see a crowd. They are going to have to be very selective with camera angles and try and stick to field shots only I suppose.

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    Piping in crowd noise and digitizing fans.. I don't think this is a good idea. I don't need to be tricked into thinking that things are back to normal. Show me reality. I never liked canned laughter on TV and I don't think I'll like this either. Hopefully not every network agrees with FOX. They can do other stuff like play music or show virtual watch parties. That would be WAY better.