Fox in the United States is looking to add fans into their coverage even with empty stadiums, using virtual reality (VR) technology.
According to the New York Post, the media company, along with fellow broadcasters ESPN, NBC, CBS and Turner Sports, are seeking to improve the fan experience at home by bringing in VR technology to enhance their viewing of the game.
As all sporting events are most likely to only be shown behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is an idea that could serve a valuable purpose for the foreseeable future until it’s safe for spectators to return in mass gatherings.
Fox broadcaster Joe Buck has been adamant in suggesting that virtual fans are something we should expect to see, as broadcasters work out the best way to implement it.
Speaking on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live, the addition of fake crowd noise could add some extra excitement to contests.
“[Virtual fans is] pretty much a done deal,” Buck said.
“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. So it’s really important.
“And then on top of that … They’re looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands, so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam-packed and in fact it’ll be empty.”
The German Bundesliga recently restarted between closed doors, but there was definitely an eerie feeling without the atmosphere.
If you watched the derby between Dortmund vs Schalke, there is potential for crowd noise to be filtered through around the PA systems, as each of Dortmund’s goals were followed by chants by the intimidating yellow wall.
With crowd noise absent completely, it could hinder a club’s dominance at home with familiar comforts, or remove just a little bit of normality during these strange times.
As we’ve seen with Fox, they would just like to make games seem as though it’s like the old times, despite adding the technology being a challenge.