NHL To Introduce Artificial Crowd And Noise During Live Games

NHL To Introduce Artificial Crowd And Noise During Live Games

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to postpone the conclusion of its season, reduce the regular-season games, and restart in empty arenas. But the league is determined to host its 2020 season as authentic and ‘normal’ as possible. NHL won’t be compromising the satisfaction and participation of ice hockey fans across the globe with its special broadcasts.

The NHL will have a five-second delay and artificial crowd noise for all games from its season restart in the hub cities Toronto and Edmonton. Beginning August 1, fans can watch ice hockey games live and with a virtual audience.

The NHL announced the setup on its latest memo addressing teams and media this week. The information includes how dry the games would look and sound like without fans present inside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Rogers Place in Edmonton. NBC will produce broadcasts for the Eastern Conference postseason games, while Sportsnet will produce Western Conference coverage.

As fans contribute to the excitement of live hockey games, NHL decided to experiment on its broadcast content. The virtual setup is part of the league’s Phase 4 return-to-play plan.

Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer and senior executive VP of events and entertainment, shared the NHL’s pressing concerns and valid reasons behind the new virtual setup:

“We’re never going to have this kind of creative freedom. Without fans, it makes it different. Whether that’s good or bad, it just changes the way you do things. Hopefully everybody likes it. I know there are going to be people that just want to watch the game. And when the puck drops, for the most part, they’re just going to watch the game. We’re not messing with the game. We’re just trying to make it look pretty.”

Each NFL arena will have 32 cameras, while regular games only have 20. The cameras will be positioned in areas where they can capture more of the venue and show new live angles. Rinwide stage with LED screens and banners make up for the empty seats behind the benches. Meanwhile, empty seats on the lower part of the arenas are covered by a tarp.