Artificial Crowd Noise or Silence?

Since March, when the first lockdown started to impact live sports, I embarked on a creative exploration of what a no fans stadium experience would work both at the venue (without fans) and for fans watching from home and experiencing the live game on TV or any online service.

There has been a lot of discussions with clients and on specialized media, if generating pseudo crowd noise to follow the development of the game in both cases (on broadcast and at the venue).

As Bundesliga restarted last week, the DFL decided to inject separate audio tracks for the distribution of the live video feed to rights holders, one with just the real sounds from the pitch and in addition a feed that has the augmented artificial crowd noise feed added.

Opinions are very radically split.

A very informal Awful Announcing poll of 1,500 Twitter users showed that 37% like it, 33% hate it and 30% still can’t decide. Derek Rae, an international soccer broadcaster who often does English play-by-play for the Bundesliga likes how it’s being used in Germany.

“You can choose to have it, or not. If it were me, I would rather hear it in the context it’s being played,” he said, “I.E. how the players are experiencing it. But others might see/hear it differently.”

Personally I kind of like the pure football noise version, but yes at times it seems a bit lost in space train ing-like environment.

Watch Experience: Test for yourself!

Example 1: Silence / Real football noise version (DAZN, audio in German)

Example 2: Crowd Sounds version from FOX Soccer (USA), official highlights from YouTube.

At the Venue, not so simple

So what about having the artificial crowd noise pushed to the stadium through the big audio systems. At the start, I thought it was a simple obvious, and must-do idea.
Then I went into a more pragmatic mode and started to explore how to make it happen.

Not so simple. Not for the technical aspects, but for the impact it may have on the game. Players may have an emotional response to a different level and type of noise.

So my question is: Who will control the noise generation engine?

  • The home Team people? Seems unfair
  • The League? It seems reasonable but it can be debated every time in theory
  • AI/ML? It seems to be the best option if you trust technology and the people behind it

There are various companies doing it in Japan, Canada, and Europe.

@CDM / Chief Evangelist @deltatre