COVID-19

Fake crowds are becoming ubiquitous and a bit more realistic

Andy Uhler Sep 25, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Cardboard cutouts of fans at a Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants game in July. Harry How/Getty Images
COVID-19

Fake crowds are becoming ubiquitous and a bit more realistic

Andy Uhler Sep 25, 2020
Cardboard cutouts of fans at a Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants game in July. Harry How/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

It started with European soccer matches. Then, Korean baseball. Now it’s part of all the sports on TV in the U.S. We’re talking about fake crowd noise for games that have no crowds.

And it sounded weird at first, right?

“It’s silly. They’re not fooling anybody. Everyone watching knows there’s no fans there,” said Boston sports fan Josef Blumenfeld, who still hasn’t gotten used to it.

At the same time, it would have been weird if there had been only silence in the broadcast of a recent Dallas Cowboys game. Dallas was down 15 points with five minutes left, got a touchdown, then another, then recovered an onside kick and nailed a field goal to win by one. Instead, the fake crowd went wild.

“Once they started using it, I didn’t really notice it kind of goes on in the background,” said Daniel Packer, a Yankees fan who lives in Los Angeles. “I’ve kind of learned to enjoy it a lot.”

For Packer, the faux fans cue him to pay attention when he’s not completely focused on the game.

John Ourand, media editor at the Sports Business Journal, said broadcasters are trying to make fake crowds as real as possible in order to hold your attention. The NFL, for instance, went through its archives and gathered four years of sound from every stadium.

“So the crowd noise that you hear for a Giants game is authentically a Giants crowd,” Ourand said. “The crowd noise that you hear for the Seattle Seahawks game, that’s an authentically Seahawks crowd.”

So when Russell Wilson scrambles for a first down, there’s a Seattle crowd reaction for that.

“They can have a moderate reaction, they can press a button for that,” said Stephen McDaniel, professor of sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland. “They can even press a button for boos.”

Some Philadelphia Eagles fans know that all too well. Broadcasters piped in some hearty boos during the game after quarterback Carson Wentz threw another interception last week.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.