The Detroit Lions will open up their season by hosting the Chicago Bears in a mostly-empty Ford Field on Sunday. Fans are not allowed to attend at the least the first two home games this year, although the Lions are offering fans a chance to have a cardboard cutout of their liking occupy the first few rows of the stadium. There will be select media, and, obviously, the players and coaches themselves. But other than that, it’s going to be a weird scene.
However FOX, who will carry Sunday’s game, will reportedly be filling the stands at Ford Field with virtual fans on their broadcast. Per Sports Business Journal, the Lions-Bears game will be the only game of Week 1 to have virtual fans during the broadcast. Here’s more information from Sports Business Journal via Awful Announcing:
“Fox will be the only TV network to use virtual fans during its NFL coverage. The network will use fans during only one game in Week 1 — Bears-Lions — with hopes to use the tech more frequently as the season goes on. “We didn’t get a pre-season game on the NFL to do everything that we wanted to do and really look at it,” said Fox Sports Executive Producer, Exec VP and Head of Production & Operations Brad Zager. “Before we rolled it out everywhere, we wanted to have a game that we could focus on, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
So what will it look like on Sunday? It’s hard to know for sure, but here’s an example of how FOX has used virtual fans in Major League Baseball: