If the NFL plays games without fans this fall, its TV broadcasts will find ways to make it seem like there are people around reacting to the action.
Joe Buck on Wednesday said it was "pretty much a done deal" that audiences at home would hear artificial noise pumped into broadcasts. His comments, which came on Sirius XM's "Andy Cohen Live" show, took a positive stance on the measure.
"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," Buck said. "So it's really important."
Buck followed up those comments Thursday with a series of tweets in response to a Sports Illustrated article Buck called "misleading."
Amazing the headline doesn’t match what I said. Didn’t think that happened at places like SI. I’ve been saying for over a month, including on HBO in April, that some ambient crowd noise under a broadcast is a simple, necessary tool to normalize the viewing experience at home.... https://t.co/6JY11ZcGZU
— Joe Buck (@Buck) May 14, 2020
Here are his full remarks:
There is no “traditional” take on this topic. It’s new territory. Hoping stadiums are full and all is normal. If not, then it’s a blank canvas. All networks will try to make it look and sound as normal as possible. It could lead to unprecedented, thrilling access. Who knows?
But Crowd reactions are an enormous piece of the TV puzzle. All reactions by a crowd are valuable and to be used – as far as I know. I use it as much as I can and still keep my job. Big moments like the Minn. Miracle are MADE on tv because of the crowd noise.
It doesn’t have to be over the top. But something has to be there. Contrary to the misleading headline at SI and other places – I said FOX is WORKING on virtual fans. They are working everyday on ANYTHING to make our shows the best on TV. That’s exciting to me, and I am thankful.
Some ideas will work and some won’t. That’s the nature of WORKING on something. It’s uncharted water. It could be a very exciting time in network TV coverage. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Praying for a SAFE return to a stadium near you for all involved.
While adding cheering to broadcasts will be straightforward and might not even seem weird if not overdone, what about the home games for the league's worst teams? If the Jets, for example, are 2-6 and Sam Darnold throws his third pick of a game, does Fox infuse booing into MetLife Stadium?
Probably not, even if that would make the whole idea so much more fun. NFL partners tend to shy away from overt criticism of teams.
So expect a mostly positive influx of fake noise onto your TVs this fall should stadiums be empty.
Buck added on his podcast appearance that like foreign baseball and soccer teams have done over the past month, the NFL might also add cardboard cutout fans to the stands to further reduce the feeling of emptiness.