Fox will pack MLB broadcasts with fake crowds

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,522   +122
Staff member
The big picture: Sports fans the world over are anxious to get back to some semblance of normalcy but this season will be unlike any other. In addition to playing far fewer games than usual, teams – and broadcasters – will have to grapple with the reality of doing so in front of empty stands.

Major League Baseball on Wednesday is set to kick off a condensed version of its 2020 season following a four-month delay due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Other sports that have already come back haven’t struggled too much with the lack of a live audience. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been regularly hosting events since early May. While the atmosphere is certainly different without a crowd, it’s not necessarily better or worse – just that, different.

With the crowd gone, for example, fighters can better hear commands from their coaches. Unexpectedly, they can also hear the commentary team and at times, have even replied to them mid-fight. Plus, without a crowd to drown out the noise, viewers get a better understanding of what it must be like to be in the cage as all of the strikes and the reactions from opponents are amplified.

Simply put, it hasn’t impacted my enjoyment of the sport one bit.

At least one baseball broadcaster isn’t so certain that MLB can stand on its own without a live crowd.

When Fox airs its slate of MLB games this Saturday, the stands won’t be “empty.” Instead, they’ll be populated with virtual fans created using advanced motion capture techniques. The broadcaster will have more than 500 looping actions at their disposal and will even be able to control excitement levels and how fans are dressed.

“We were dead set on trying to make the broadcast with no crowd feel as authentic and organic as possible,” said Fox Sports executive vice president Brad Zager.

If you’re shooting for an authentic and organic feel, why are you adding in virtual effects to simulate a crowd? Whatever happens, let it happen naturally. Fans are just excited that sports are back and don’t need fake crowds and artificial noise to enjoy it.

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Posts: 1,947   +2,338
I dont know what will be worse: parks full of fake crowds or empty parks. Both are depressing reminders of modern society.


Posts: 2,309   +906
What I had been doing for all sports I watch, hockey and baseball, was turn off the sound because the announcers and color people were so annoying. I enjoyed the games more

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,392   +5,830
I can't wait to see a screaming line drive that goes through a few of these fan cut outs ..... will the fake 911 first responder's show up? One other thing .... will the commentators sexually harass the cut outs? Only seems fair ....
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Posts: 108   +54
Been following Spanish and English league football and man those fake crowd chants killed it for me! What’s next? Sitcom “Awwww” when two players hug it out after a game??
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Posts: 3,008   +758
I thought maybe they could setup a bunch of stadium cams and let people cheer from home. Like when Sheldon became a robot.


Posts: 436   +329
At the recent Muirfield Memorial Golf Tournament, the golfers in their interviews talked about how they missed the "energy" of the spectators watching them. And it showed in their performance -- usually the winner is double-digits under par, but this year the winner was only 9 under. It's not unheard of -- it happened back in 2012 when Tiger Woods won the tournament -- but from 1986 onward this is only the 3rd time that the winning score was in the single digits under par. And all of the players were apparently affected, as the winner's lead over the 2nd-place spot (3 strokes) is typical for the tournament.


Posts: 11   +27
Since the sports teams have all bowed to the pressure of Political correctness, I doubt they will enjoy their extreme amounts of profits any longer with fake crowds or not.