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English Premier League could fill dead air with crowd noises from FIFA 20 video game

As the English Premier League approaches its June 17 restart date, the league’s clubs will be asked to approve one solution to fill the gap left by fans: artificial crowd noise.

According to The Daily Mail, the clubs will be presented with the option of integrating crowd noises from football simulation video game FIFA 20 into broadcasts when they meet on Thursday. It is expected that this will be approved without dissent.

The German Bundesliga was the first major European football league to resume following the coronavirus epidemic, and fans on social media and pundits alike commented on the near-silence in which the games were played, with many arguing that the viewing experience is diminished without a live audience.

Since then, local broadcasters in Germany have moved to incorporate fake crowd noises, while US broadcasters such as ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS have incorporated similar solutions.

In England, the solution that the clubs will vote on will be including news from the video game as an option for viewers on the red button rather than on the main channels.

The report goes on to add that the Premier League’s broadcast advisory group has also come up with a number of other innovations to fill the fan-sized gap in football coverage. These include a fan mosaic in the stands, 360-degree replays and a new tactical camera. These are also expected to be approved.

The remaining 92 games of the season will be broadcast across pay TV and, for the first time, free-to-air television.

Elsewhere, SportsProMedia reports that Spain’s La Liga is considering adding virtual crowds for broadcasts of the league. The league’s president Javier Tebas told the media at a virtual conference organised by Marca that it had been testing AR technology to digitally add crowds to empty stadiums.

Tebas said: “We are testing to see if we can allow the spectator to choose between two images — the real one or another with virtual fans and sounds. We want to give fans options. The tests I’ve seen so far are impressive.”