Fox will look to virtual fans to fill out stands to make its MLB broadcasts look as natural as possible. MLB has also distributed roughly 75 different sound effects pulled from Sony’s MLB: The Show video game for use, with reactions available ranging from cheering, roaring, disappointment, and regular crowd noise.
The network will be able to alter the crowd as well, which could include thinning it out during late-game blowouts or changing the mix of home and away team fans in inter-city rivalry games. There is also speculation the network could experiment with advertising on virtual signs held up by the fans. Fox sold 90% of its MLB advertising inventory before the season started yesterday.
Teams are trying to find creative ways to fill their own empty stands. That includes tarps over empty seats with sponsor logos to cardboard cutouts of pictures of fans
MLB and the MLBPA also agreed to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 teams in 2020. The new format will feature a best-of-three series in the first round instead of the sudden-death wild-card game.
The expanded postseason will help:
- Maintain the estimated $1.7 billion in national TV media rights revenue MLB receives annually.
- Offset losses from fans not being in attendance. Forty percent of the league’s $10.7 billion in annual revenue typically comes from game-day revenue, including tickets, concessions, parking, and merchandise.