UPDATE: There has been a little bit of confusion over what Buck said regard crowd noise and fans. John Ourand offered an update on the subject.
Joe Buck said that Fox Sports likely will use crowd noise for its NFL telecasts and said the network is looking into ways that it can put virtual fans into the stands. My original tweet wasn't clear on that; though the text below it is. https://t.co/Dd4SWzC6xq— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 14, 2020
Sports leagues have talked about eventually getting fans back in the stands for games, but most appear to be resigned to the fact that sporting events in 2020 could be mostly without fans in attendance. FOX play-by-play man Joe Buck acknowledged it was basically a done deal that we would not see fans in the stands for some portion of NFL telecasts this fall.
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
The timeline is uncertain for when fans will return. Some health experts have projected it won’t happen until 2021, but you can be certain sports leagues are investigating every option — even for small crowd sizes. For the NFL, ticket revenue is a smaller piece of the pie than television money. At the same time, it’s still a good chunk of change and if leagues can get fans back in the stands in what they deem a sufficiently safe manner, they’ll do it.
But for the time being, most of us will be enjoying the eventual return of sports on our living room couches. Other leagues have attempted to put cardboard cutouts into the stands, but given the kind of money FOX invests in football broadcasts, virtual fans makes sense. And as for crowd noise? Well, considering the complaints against some teams for pumping in noise, this is a logical step to take.