Fox Sports Will Use Virtual Fans To Fill Empty Baseball Stadiums

Fox Sports Will Use Virtual Fans To Fill Empty Baseball Stadiums

Virtual fans will start filling out MLB arenas on Fox Sports later this year and games might start looking more similar to a video game than real life.

With professional sports starting back up again after being delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, I was wondering how they would tackle filming with empty arenas. Well, it looks like Fox Sports airings of MLB games will look more similar to a game of MLB The Show than an actual real baseball match.

The MLB announced that they will be using crowd noise generated from MLB The Show. On top of that, Fox will be filling empty arenas with virtual crows in its broadcast.

Fox has teamed up with Silver Spoon Animation to create the virtual fans. A spokesperson for Fox informed CNBC that the network tested the newly developed software at Arizona’s Chase field a few weeks ago and it passed.

To start, the shots of the virtual fans will only be in wide shots only. They are planning to expand it to show “fans” reaching out for home runs and other stuff you would normally see fans doing.

Fox will be able to control what fan gear the crowds are wearing, how to react to certain events. One example given was leaving the stadium if the home team is getting blown out.

Even though Fox has probably sunk plenty of money into the venture, the broadcast still wants the games to be as natural as possible and will not use the new tech every single play. Fox also stated that they are “exploring” ideas on how to use the virtual fans for NFL games later this year. That has not been finalized yet though.

While I can understand the sentiment on implementing these virtual fans. I can’t help but think that this idea is going to backfire and the internet is going to get an ongoing supply of memes throughout the MLB season. Still, I am intrigued if this animation company can create a believable fake croud. I don’t think video games have done it yet, but maybe they can.