Fake crowd noise and increased social media interactivity are part of the plans to liven up TV coverage when the AFL season returns.
Fake crowd noise and increased social media interactivity are part of the plans to liven up TV coverage when the AFL season returns.

Footy broadcasters reveal plan to bring the atmosphere

Footy fans are being promised a "whole new perspective on the game" when AFL finally returns this week.

While the competition has been on hold since March 22, broadcasters having been busy looking at how to improve the coverage of games in empty stadiums.

Artificial crowd noises, new camera technology and shooting angles, and an unprecedented level of online fan interactivity are just some of the measures set to be integrated into coverage in an attempt to give viewers the best football experience from their couches.

Following the success of artificial crowd noise in NRL matches, both Fox Footy and Seven will incorporate similar crowd noise into their coverage to compensate for the emptiness of the stadium, with Fox Footy even tailoring the noise to the different national venues.

Fox Footy General Manager Mick Neill said the months between rounds had been used to work out how to enhance the viewer experience, and a new mobile, boundary-running Fox Air camera would give "a whole new perspective on the game".

"We will be shooting the game a bit differently," Mr Neill said.

"We have updated our camera plans so we will be shooting a little bit tighter. We really want to focus in on the players on the field and we're not really keen to show all the empty seats."

He also said Fox Footy was looking at ways to bring fans into the live coverage and Fox Footy staples such as AFL 360 and Bounce via social media and Zoom.

"We need to help give the fans a voice because they don't have the voice of the crowd at the stadium at the moment," Mr Neill said.

"Any time we can help out giving them a voice is a good thing."

Managing director of Seven Melbourne and Head of Network sport, Lewis Martin, said that the challenges of televising this season had been immense and the first round, played in empty stadiums, proved to be unsatisfying for viewers.

Added travel restrictions since put in place restricting teams' movement around the county had meant the network effectively had to start from scratch.

"That doesn't change that the game is still the core focus, but we have had to reset the way we go about things," he said. "And I think having no crowds has reminded everyone just how important fans are."

An unexpected bonus from the first round was that without crowds, TV viewers could hear more of the physicality of the players, and Martin said they planned to keep that element while trying to provide a more familiar crowd experience.

"It's the body clashes, it's the boot on ball and it's all the verbal exchanges between players," he said. "So, we are going to see an insight into what an AFL player endures in a game more so than ever before."

But despite all the technological advances, Martin said the game was still its own best advertisement and anticipation from broadcasters and fans alike was sky high at the prospect of Thursday's meeting between heavyweight clubs Richmond and Collingwood.

"If you are wondering about all the different effects, if Jordan de Goey kicks a goal to put the Pies three points in front with a minute to go, that's all we are going to talk about."

Originally published as How AFL broadcasters plan to bring the atmosphere


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