As sports come back, teams and broadcasters are working to provide fans ways to interact with their favorite teams while not being able to attend games. Providing crowd noise in empty stadiums has been traced back to 2013 when a stadium in Tunisia allowed for 90,000 fans to cheer through an app and loudspeakers following the Arab Spring.
In Japan, an app will allow fans to pick from “cheer, chant, clap, shout, groan and boo,” to broadcast through the stadium loudspeakers. Empty stadiums across the globe have also now employed everything from cardboard cutouts of fans to robots and dolls to help fill the seats, and in some cases generate cash by allowing fans to purchase or sponsor the stand-ins.
The German Bundesliga has been broadcast in the U.S. with artificial crowd noise, and the English Premier League might offer the same type of feed. In Denmark, more than 30,000 fans used Zoom to cheer on AGF Aarhus through screens around the field.
FOS reported NBC has discussed the many ways to approach broadcasting games without fans, but no decisions have been made. The network carries Premier League soccer, NFL football and the Olympics, among other sports.
“Nothing is off the table at this point,” NBC Sunday Night Football Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli said. “But this is something that I’d expect all the networks will discuss closely with the NFL as we approach the preseason and regular season.”