After months of uncertainty, baseball is finally starting again – but this time the stadiums look very different from what we are used to.
Fox Sports will add "virtual fans" to its MLB (Major League Baseball) game broadcasts, beginning with the Milwaukee Brewers' fight against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, July 25, at 10 a.m. The lifelike fans become reality in collaboration with Silver Spoon Animation and SMT using Pixotope software to create photo-realistic graphics.
No fans? Not at FOX Sports.
Thousands of virtual fans will attend FOX's MLB games this Saturday. pic.twitter.com/z9oQU0rYuC
– FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 23, 2020
The MLB season officially begins today, July 23, about four months after the season was originally scheduled for late March. For fans watching from home, the games won't look much different thanks to the new technology, but the stands are actually empty and no one catches any rotten balls.
Other professional sports leagues are expected to play again, and there have been many creative ways to solve the problem of empty stadiums. Japanese company Yamaha came up with the idea of using an app and a set of speakers to fill a venue with the noise of fans while watching from home. Fans can tap a number of preset answers that are offered in the app, e.g. B. Applause, cheers and mockery to express their feelings as the game progresses.
Premier League football games televised have been amplified with digital audience noise, although empty spaces are still displayed on the screen.
A baseball team in Japan even used Boston Dynamics robots to breathe life into its empty stadiums by providing midgame entertainment to fans watching at home.
While the camaraderie of being with other enthusiastic fans cheering on your team is an integral part of the experience of sports games, a survey by ESPN in May found that US sports fans are cool when they watch television events without viewers.