We talked about this topic on Crossing Broadcast the other night.
How will broadcasters adjust for the inevitable lack of fans at NFL games? Will we clearly hear tackles and audibles? Will the field level microphone volume be softer or louder? And what about crowd noise piped in through the speakers?
FOX is going with the latter, according to Joe Buck, who went on Andy Cohen’s radio show:
Joe Buck to SiriusXM’s "Andy Cohen Live": Fox Sports will pump in crowd noise and put virtual fans in the stands for NFL games in empty stadiums. SBJ Media is live: 🔒https://t.co/11fxKTc6bv🔒 pic.twitter.com/baK9S1LAsq
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 13, 2020
I hate the idea.
- One of the great things about the recent UFC fights is that they feel very organic. You can clearly hear the strikes and takedowns. You get a sense of how heavy these guys are breathing between rounds. It’s been a very unique and visceral experience, one that makes me respect the fighters and coaches even more. Adding a layer of artificial crowd noise just cheapens the product.
- I was looking forward to hearing audibles, adjusted play calls, and natural pad contact. Surely you can give us this while just lowering the field-level mic volume and preventing cuss words from getting out.
- One concern would be bastards like Bill Belichick replaying audible calls and then reverse engineering your playbook. For example, if Carson Went yells “kill kill, Maui Wowie 41,” the Patriots are gonna have a guy noting that Maui Wowie 41 is Carlos Hyde running off tackle behind Jason Peters. You’d have to adjust for the idea of other teams being more privy to your communications.
- Pay the guy on the dump button extra money and tell the FCC that we are in “uncertain times” and some bad words are gonna slip.
- The virtual Saints fans will probably whine and complain about everything.
Football is not football without the fans, but fake fans would make the product worse and not better, in my mind. If you’ve watched the UFC fights, you’d probably agree that the experience and competition levels have both been high-quality, and while it would certainly be nice to get the fans back in the stands, an empty-arena broadcast would be more than suitable for the time being.