Monday December 4, 2023

MLB Gives Fans Ability to Cheer — or Boo — Virtually During World Series

  • When the 2020 MLB season began without fans, the league rolled out its ‘Cheer At The Ballpark’ feature.
  • The feature, which allows fans to cheer, boo or clap virtually, saw more than 71 million fan reactions on this season.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

When the 2020 MLB season began in July with empty stands, the league still managed to bring its homebound fans into the ballpark to cheer — or boo — during games. 

MLB’s “Cheer at the Ballpark” feature resonated with baseball fans so much, the league has decided to incorporate it into this year’s World Series. 

The league launched “Cheer at the Ballpark” ahead of Opening Day on July 23 across the website, Gameday app and various social media links. It allows fans to engage with their team’s games by alerting scoreboard operators at ballparks about their reactions. The operators receive a live interface reflecting fans’ thoughts, enabling them to adjust the type of artificial fan noise inserted into the relatively empty stadiums. At Globe Life Field — the site of this year’s World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers — Game 1 drew 11,388 fans, roughly 28% capacity at the 40,000-seat ballpark

For those logged in, other fan-interactive features on “Cheer at the Ballpark” include users being able to see what percentage of them are rooting for certain teams while the three reactions — cheer, boo or clap — appear on screen, akin to the heart emojis that circulate on an Instagram Live video. The cheering option pops up alongside the Gameday score graphic and pitch-charting visual, and appears on all 30 clubs’ team websites. Teams can then share links across their various social media platforms. 

With “Cheer at the Ballpark,” Vasanth Williams, chief product officer at MLB, says that its postseason presence is meant for the majority of people who are unable to attend this year’s Fall Classic.

“What we think about every day is, ‘How do we bring the excitement of baseball to the fans — no matter where they are?’” Williams said. “Just because we have [28%] of the fans doesn’t mean that the problem’s solved and fans are back. It’s not, and we still think we have to solve [that problem].”

Originally, the feature’s shelf-life was the regular season — but that changed come October. Entering the Wild Card Series, MLB made the decision to extend the feature into the postseason after it generated more than 71 million fan reactions on during the regular season. 

“It’s not the same as sitting next to your best friends in the stands, but to create a sense of fan community and a sense of engagement and their favorite teams, it will help reinforce what will be a unique season,” Chris Marinak, chief operations and strategy officer at MLB, told ESPN in July.

Entering Game 2 of the World Series, Williams says that “Cheer at the Ballpark’s” popularity has increased considerably throughout the postseason. He was unable to comment on the feature’s exact growth, but stated that engagement has risen series-by-series, beginning with the Wild Card games and through the Fall Classic.


Sports Look to Keep Fans Engaged By Embracing Digital Bobbleheads

MLB teams have begun creating their own digital bobbleheads to keep supporters…
October 6, 2020

Regardless of how the season ends, Williams has already said that “Cheer at the Ballpark” will continue on into the 2021 campaign. While knowing that 2021 will look — and provide — different challenges than 2020, he and his team have already begun strategizing numerous ways to improve the feature. Following the World Series’ conclusion, those talks will only accelerate as MLB waits to figure out where most fans will be tuning into games next season.

“This is the time where we really think through these problems, get feedback and then regroup and figure this one out,” Williams said. “That’s how we’re thinking about it. You’ll see an evolution of it in some way, depending on where we are in this ongoing cycle. I do expect some kind of an experience that will continue to evolve that for the fans, and not have it be exactly the same product as it was before.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

MLB Clubs Brace for Record Player Spending As Winter Meetings Kick Off

Expected record-level contract for Ohtani set to highlight offseason activity.

Ohtani's Future Deal Takes Center Stage As Winter Meetings Kick Off

The two-way phenom is expected to sign the largest-ever player contract in U.S. team sports.

TV Networks Are Programming College Football’s Future: What’s Next

Conference championship weekends will have a different feel in the future.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

CFP Selection Turns Heads with Controversial Selection


Featured Today

The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

Multiple networks could share rights to the championship game, sources told FOS.
Brett Favre
November 27, 2023

Favre Welfare Case Hold-Up? "AG’s Office Has Not Expressed Interest In Pursuing"

The DOJ interviewed Brett Favre in early 2020.
The future of the Pac-12 rests on a court decision.
November 24, 2023

The Pac-12 Plays Its Final Regular-Season Game. Then A Court Decides Its Fate.

The conference's future rests with a court decision.
Lane Kiffin
November 9, 2023

Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin Lawyers Argue for Dismissal of Player Lawsuit

FOS obtained audio of Lane Kiffin's interaction with the player behind lawsuit.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Saco Bay PT
Multiple - USA Careers
The Adidas ball has changed over the years.

The Most Advanced Tech at the Women's World Cup Might Surprise You

This year's OCEAUNZ introduces connected ball technology to the women's game.

Creating Fan-Centric Content With AI

WSC’s highlight automation improved the speed of ESPN’s content creation.

Rewriting the Sports Media Playbook

WSC's highlight automation improved Clemson's content strategy and overall growth.

NHL’s Chris Foster on Amplifying Content Distribution With Automation

Learn how the NHL is using WSC Sports to increase fan engagement.

Re-Imagining Storytelling With AI

Amy Anderson, Head of Content Strategy at NASCAR Studios, discusses the role of AI technology in developing and growing new content.
Arial view of Audi testing track
December 4, 2022

Audi Gears Up for F1 with Major New Facility

Audi is building a 10,000 square-foot building to support its F1 efforts.
Woman wears Meta Quest headset while working out to have virtual reality exercise session
November 22, 2022

Meta's Plans for VR Fitness Could Hit Snag

A government agency is looking to block an acquisition by Meta.
Nike phone advertisement
November 15, 2022

Nike Jumps Further into Metaverse With Virtual Sneaker Platform

The world’s largest sportswear company is taking its talents to the metaverse.