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Joe Buck Says Networks Will Use Virtual Fans & Sounds

“Watching a major sporting event without a live audience will be strange. Watching with a virtual audience will be equally unique.”

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Is fake crowd noise the future for sports telecasts during the COVID-19 pandemic? FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck says yes. 

Two weeks ago, Buck joined Bryant Gumbel on HBO’s Real Sports and suggested networks will need to use fake crowd noise, comparing it to a laugh track on a TV show. On Wednesday, Buck took the thought a step further when he appeared on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live!

“I think they’ll do it. In fact, I know they’ll do it,” Buck told Cohen. Not only does he believe networks will add crowd noise to create a normal viewing experience, but according to Buck, they also might fill seats with virtual fans. 

“It’s pretty much a done deal. I think whoever is going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field,” Buck said. “They’re looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam-packed and in fact it’ll be empty.”

Watching a major sporting event without a live audience will be strange. Watching with a virtual audience will be equally unique. Although it would be fake, adding a soundtrack and virtual fans should keep the conversation on the game, rather than focused on how different the atmosphere is. But a disclaimer might be helpful to avoid having an uninformed viewer tune in to see a raucous crowd while social distancing mandates remain in effect. 

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Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”

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USA Today

Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.

The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.

Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.

“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”

Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”

He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.

Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.

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NFL Likely To Launch NFL+ Streaming Service This Summer

“A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+.”

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According to the Sports Business Journal, consumers could be downloading NFL+ by July. Now, just what NFL+ will be is still yet to be finalized.

Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal reported in the site’s newsletter that live games will certainly be at the center of the league-owned streaming service. It is likely to only be available on phones and tablets with no option to stream to a larger monitor.

The viewing options would be limited. No out of market games would be available on the app. It is meant to replace the deals that recently expired with Yahoo and mobile phone carriers that recently expired.

The app could also include other content. Radio calls, team-created digital content, and league-owned podcasts are all options. 

NFL+ would make NFL Media more valuable. The league is trying to sell an equity stake in its linear TV and digital media properties. Amazon and Apple are considered the most likely to make a deal. 

A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+. The pricing structure can and likely will change before the app hits the market.

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Stephen A. Smith To Charles Barkley: ‘I Worry Because You’re Big’

“You’ve always been big. But now you’re bigger.”

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ESPN host Stephen A. Smith is concerned about his friend Charles Barkley.

Barkley, while in Dallas with TNT for Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Mavericks and Golden State Warriors, Barkley hopped on a horse. The clip Stephen A. used in his ESPN+ show Stephen A’s World showed Barkley needing assistance by handlers to get off the horse.

Stephen A. was astounded.

“Ain’t no way Charles Barkley needs that much help getting off the horse,” Smith said. “But he did – he did!”

Smith then used the closing seconds to express his concern about Barkley’s size.

“I worry about you cause you’re a big boy,” he said. “You’ve always been big. But now you’re bigger.”

Barkley hasn’t had any publicized major health incidents stemming from his weight, but still Stephen A. was hopeful his friend might take some time and initiative to work on cutting a few pounds.

“Let’s address that, because I need you around,” Smith said. “I love you bro.”

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